Shadow IT: Turning Tech Rogues into Tech Champions

October 1, 2014
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As we continue the conversation about BYOD and how it affects security in organizations, it’s important to define a key term that many business executives aren’t familiar with. That term is “shadow IT”.

As we continue the conversation about BYOD and how it affects security in organizations, it’s important to define a key term that many business executives aren’t familiar with. That term is “shadow IT”. Shadow IT is the use of software applications by employees that have not been approved by the IT department or obtained according to IT policies. This happens frequently in the BYOD atmosphere, as employees download new technology and applications for work use in order to become more efficient without communicating the reason for downloading it. Rather than helping existing software applications improve, this means internal proprietary software applications become more and more outdated and fail serve the user. What’s more is that if these applications lack the appropriate security measures, it can compromise business or customer data. What’s a CIO to do? Here are a few ways you can turn your existing tech rogues into internal technology champions. 

Don’t shut it down.
Rather than discouraging new applications in the business environment, take some time to understand how some of these applications might be properly secured and added to your employees set of tools. If appropriate, IT can explore using these applications throughout the organization. Shutting down new software applications that employees are using to be more efficient will only discourage employees or affect their productivity, particularly with Millennial employees who enjoy finding unconventional ways to be more efficient.  

470043831Take feedback on existing internal applications.
In order for your employees to consistently use your software, you have to ensure that it’s staying up to date. If employees are finding better applications with more features that better serve their needs, take some time to understand what those needs are and how you can modify your existing application to accommodate that need. Work with employees to better understand their workflow bottlenecks and solve problems rather than giving them cumbersome applications to deal with.  One way to constructively vet these applications is to form a committee composed of key, tech savvy members of the organization.

Launch a broader technology intiative.
Go beyond employee feedback and become strategic about what you want your software to do for your employees and your organization. Assign a role to assess new technologies in your industry and investigate how these technologies can assist your organization with growth and operational efficiency. If you’re proactive in your approach to your software, your employees will be more likely to approach you with new ideas rather than seeking solutions outside the organization.

By leveraging employees who are deploying their own software, you can gain valuable insight into the needs of your users, make changes and turn rogues into evangelists and champions. Remember to constantly survey and understand employee wants and workflow issues. Rather than stomping out all “Bring Your Own Software” initiatives, find ways to proactively integrate new features into your own line of business application to gain better adoption and win over your users.