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Shadow IT: Time to Accept the Inevitable

on September 13, 2016

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Shadow IT has been growing in strength and necessity since BYOD (bring your own device) programs came into existence. As millennials enter the workplace, this new generation of employees is confident enough in its grasp of computer technology to solve, or at least try to solve, many of their own IT issues. Here’s why this is mostly a good thing for your business.

De-Mystify Shadow IT

For those who don’t know: Shadow IT refers to free and paid software applications that allow users to perform many of their own IT functions without involving their company’s actual IT department or using company-sanctioned software programs. 

This obviously presents a few concerns, and it is understandable that organizations have been hesitant to adopt the widespread use of Shadow IT. Unauthorized IT applications can present security risks and unskilled employees may cause more harm than good. However, Shadow IT may also be a source of innovation. 

Some companies still don’t quite understand the facets of Information Technology, or IT. IT covers a wide array of different yet interconnected facets within a company, and it may be difficult to understand for people who are not trained in its language. Shadow IT bridges the gap by helping employees and businesses understand more about IT. The ability to perform IT tasks without the assistance of the company’s IT professionals empowers your staff while helping to increase all-around efficiency. 

Understand the Benefits Adopting Shadow IT

When companies overcome their fear of Shadow IT and embrace it, they can reap many benefits, including IT innovations, productivity improvements, and lessening pressures on the traditional IT department. Sadly, many employees feel that their company’s IT department is more hindrance than help. Relying on the IT staff to fix a problem takes too long and cuts into the employee’s productivity. Many employees are turning to Shadow IT solutions to solve their own problems because it is easier and quicker than going through the normal channels.

Shadow IT raises red flags because the IT department loses some control as a result and security could be at risk. However, if companies open themselves up to the use of Shadow IT, employees can share what they’ve learned, use better tools, and increase productivity. In addition, by opening the doors to Shadow IT, companies are also improving employee communication.

When workers solve many of their simpler technology problems on their own, this frees up the IT department to focus on more pressing matters. Rather than spending their time on small, repetitive issues, IT professionals can focus on larger projects. Some companies may even find that Shadow IT allows them to save costs by downsizing their IT departments. 

Innovate with Shadow IT

Perhaps the greatest benefits of Shadow IT are the innovations that can spring from its use, if companies allow it to thrive. At its core, Shadow IT is about personal creativity and problem solving. Employees use Shadow IT to solve common problems. In fact, Shadow IT was born out of a need to solve frequent, recurrent problems without bringing them to the IT department.

Workers using Shadow IT applications can develop solutions and then share them with others experiencing the same issues. This can lead to an increase in overall productivity. Even when there is no obvious “problem,” employees can use Shadow IT to create ways of streamlining their work processes.

For companies that overcome their fear of Shadow IT and learn to embrace it, there are numerous benefits. Most of the perceived dangers posed by this innovation are blown out of proportion and can be mitigated by the open acceptance of Shadow IT. 

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