“Shadow IT”, or the use of unapproved apps in the enterprise, is a huge problem for businesses. Today’s companies want more flexibility, faster than IT departments can provide. Tech-driven employees use a variety of tools and apps in their personal lives and expect the same level of ease and efficiency from their work tools. In short, employees are seeking true mobility and access to their tools and applications from anywhere on any device. While this supports the current Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, culture. It also, however, opens enterprises to countless potential security threats.
Why? Traditional IT bureaucracy requires employees to wait for approved tools. Unfortunately, today’s employees don’t have the time nor the patience for such long and drawn-out processes. This leads to sidestepping the IT department and downloading the apps they know will make their jobs faster and easier. So, should the benefits of mobility and employee efficiency and satisfaction be sacrificed for the sake of security?
Here’s the answer. Numerous studies and surveys list mobility to be a top priority for organizations from all sectors due to its numerous benefits: Enhanced productivity, employee retention and loyalty, reduced cost, and better remote collaboration capabilities.
Understanding the risks involved
Mobility is an enterprise necessity, and organizations who are looking to embrace mobility must also embrace Shadow IT. Let’s call it “Shadow IT-Lite” in this case. But this isn’t the wild west. IT departments and CIOs need to ensure that security protocols are in place, and that clear security/cloud based application policies are drafted and heavily monitored. They also must make sure that every employee in their organization is aware of these policies. Companies have to understand what risks come from empowering their employees with mobile strategies and if those risks are worth taking. As with most things in life or business, once you have an issue under your control, it isn’t a threat any longer.
CIOs need to abandon their old-school ways
According to a Frost & Sullivan report, the rise of Shadow IT is a direct result of employees finding organization-approved tech tools not particularly helpful nor easy to use, resulting in a long learning curve. End result? Employees fail to achieve their goals, productivity is hindered, and money is lost.
Therefore, organizations need to close this gap embracing BYOD and the use of productivity apps. This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the CIO. Instead of bottlenecking productivity, CIOs need to encourage employees to stay productive while being conscious of risks. The old-school CIOs want to protect their domain, but successful and adaptive CIOs want to embrace today’s technologies while being mindful of data privacy, security, and safety.
Employees will always find ways to use their preferred tools without considering the ramifications. Therefore, it is the CIO who can end Shadow IT by being more tolerant towards mobility and taking initiatives to make it happen, the way they want it to happen, and under their watch.
Image: Creative Commons
This article first appeared on Ricoh Innovation Blog. Author was compensated for this post however the content in the post solely expresses the views and opinions of the author and not those of Ricoh.