The change in trends is interesting to analyze when discussing Shadow IT, a term often used to describe an investment in acquiring, developing and/or operating IT solutions outside the control of the IT department. Just a few years ago, all of the articles were about “Stopping Shadow IT” or “The Threat of Shadow IT.” IT departments have been involved in a constant battle over the years, setting up rules and hoping users will follow them. But shadow IT is inevitable, it’s a war that can never be won.
Most of us, at one point or another, have used an Excel macro to automate a task, web mail to send files, Google docs to collaborate on a spreadsheet, Evernote to write down thoughts, or DropBox to share files. The Cloud revolution is boosting these kinds of activities and money spent in Shadow IT is expected to grow by 20% in 2015.
This growth reflects several changes that include:
- Demand increasingly outstripping the IT organization’s capacity to supply.
- Changes in the IT operating model, including ongoing increases in centralization and consolidation, often resulting in a greater gap in decision-making between users and IT.
- Booming technology and service landscape (cloud, social, mobile and information), with the emergence of increasingly sophisticated end-user development tools.
- Evolving workplace and nature of work, with less routine work.
- Changing workplace demographics in terms of the age, job discipline and skill profile of those actively and directly involved in the acquisition of IT-related solutions.
- Digital transformation and innovation, often led by business stakeholders that may not see the conventional capabilities of the enterprise IT group as being relevant and/or sufficiently responsive.
While they belong to very different groups, IT and business users share the same goals – they both need to get work done and move the business forward, and they’ll follow the easiest and quickest path to achieve those goals. If a customer needs a video asset, and the IT department doesn’t provide a service to easily send it, end-users will find a solution on their own. In the same way that systems administrators might use an IaaS provider to have a server in minutes if they need to host a new application, users will find a solution if there’s no time to wait.
IT should view Shadow IT as an opportunity to understand the business’s needs. It can be a source of potential value, if given the appropriate guidance and support, and if the appropriate controls are put in place.
Embracing Shadow IT is about changing the nature of the relationship with business stakeholders and diversifying IT’s role. Companies like Gartner are sparking discussion around the benefits of embracing Shadow IT, and this article on Embracing and Creating Value from Shadow IT is an excellent resource. The key is to deliver self-service compute access to end users, while maintaining IT governance; this is exactly what Winshuttle does for companies using an ERP system. Winshuttle’s Lean Data Management platform simplifies the application development process, providing enterprise IT departments with the ability to rapidly build solutions to address data growth challenges, while strictly adhering to SAP security and governance.
Success Story: AZ Electronic Materials
“Winshuttle gives you an ability to challenge each process and automate it, increasing data quality and reducing the amount of work we do.” – Jerone Walters, CIO at AZ Electronics
Here is a series of good practices for CIOs and leaders of IT to consider:
- Engage. It is critical to agree that engagement and guidance is the way to meet the increased data demands of the business, while dealing with a flat budget and inflexible ERP systems.
- Accelerate application development. Empower technical business analysts to build workflows, dashboards and reports, so expert IT resources can focus on tasks that require advanced programming skills (such as ABAP and BASIS).
- Define or update policies and guidelines. Create or update a policy that reflects the nature and scope of the solutions acquired within the enterprise. Define the areas where end-user solutions are appropriate and where they’re less appropriate.
- Create limits; there will need to be some rules that are non-negotiable. These limits are usually around privacy, security and compliance, but may extend to other areas.
Winshuttle focuses on solutions that can be developed and deployed in weeks, allowing business processes to easily adapt to changes in the business environment. This permits business analysts to accelerate continuous improvement initiatives.
Winshuttle’s platform provides enterprise IT with complete governance and security by leveraging existing ERP and Microsoft standards. It adheres to each company’s SAP and organizational-level security requirements, while recording all data changes to allow for easy auditing.
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