The term Shadow IT is not a new one, but it has been becoming more and more significant as we move into the age of remote employees, Enterprise Mobility Management and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD). If you’re not familiar with the term Shadow IT, it means that IT systems or solutions are being used by your organization that are not approved by the IT department, or paid for by the company itself.
In a nut shell, it means that your employees are trying to find a better way to access their corporate data by using services like Google Drive or Dropbox. With the rise of BYOD, employees are seeing services like this as an easy way to work remotely, work through mobile, or they may be using it because they prefer it to the corporate service provided.
Sometimes it’s a way for employees to send you a message saying, “Hey, we need a service that offers us the same benefits as Google Drive, and if you’re not willing to provide us with a corporate supported and approved version, we’re going to do it anyway.”
There are major problems that can arise from Shadow IT and your employees aren’t going to be the ones worrying about them, you are.
According to an article by Daniel Newman for Dell, no matter how hard you try, a company cannot fully prevent BYOD, and he’s right. You can either allow BYOD, or employees are going to send themselves sensitive documents to their privately owned devices just in case they need to work on the weekend, or simply because it’s more convenient to check work email on their personal phone.
Newman also points out that 95 percent of employees report using at least one personal device while at work, and those are just the people who were honest about it; the real statistic is probably even higher than that.
BYOD won’t go away, so it’s in your best interest embrace it, and introduce cloud computing and external applications into your corporate life. There isn’t really a good reason not to. The money you’ll be saving in development costs, maintenance, testing, upgrades capacity planning and performance management speaks for itself, never mind the backup and disaster recovery benefits that fall on your vendor and not on your IT department.
So can BYOD and Shadow IT work together? The easy answer is yes. However, comes with a compromise that starts with an airtight BYOD policy. Newman states that it is impossible to cut employees off from their personal devices so it is a better option to embrace it while protecting the corporate data. Implementing security protocols and meeting your employees halfway will keep them happy and productive, while protecting corporate data.