Technology processes are extremely important to organizational efficiency. Without processes in place, your employees cannot operate efficiently and there’s no way to determine how your employees are actually doing things. When your organization invests in certain technologies, 100% adoption across the board is crucial to the success of that technology. If you’re not seeing all employees adopt a selected technology, you’re not reaping the full benefits of it. Shadow IT is a common occurrence in businesses of all sizes that often occurs from lack of process surrounding technology, or very innovative employees that want to find a more efficient way to do something. While it can be frustrating as an organization to experience Shadow IT, it’s important to control it properly to help ensure that your data is secure and that your processes can remain intact.
Here are a few suggestions to help you turn Shadow IT into an innovative technology R&D committee:
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT happens frequently when employees bring technology into the business environment that isn’t approved or utilized as a standard process. This happens often in the form of unauthorized mobile device and tablet apps, personal devices or websites and applications that they’re using to help them complete their work on a daily basis. If you don’t have a documented process of expectations for how your employees should do something, you can expect that many of them will use unauthorized applications. This is also happens when you haven’t taken the time to innovate your business applications or processes and savvy employees find applications and technology that can help you be more efficient.
Why can Shadow IT be a bad thing?
Shadow IT isn’t necessarily bad, but it can come with some unfortunate consequences. For example, an application that an employee tries to download could be a virus and could infect your network. From a productivity process, your employees will be doing things differently, which can impact how future employees are trained and cause communication issues. If your IT department isn’t aware that employees are using a certain application and data is being stored there, they risk missing it if an employee leaves and that data settling in authorized hands.
How to deal with Shadow IT:
Shadow IT is a natural byproduct of efficient employees that are looking to improve their workflow and accomplish tasks more efficiently. Where Shadow IT goes wrong is when there’s no controlled environment to experiment in. You should never discourage innovation, but in order to research new applications as they come out – you need a controlled group of volunteers (a committee of sorts) that can test drive these applications on certain devices to help determine if they’re truly going to help their department and job function be more productive. A few key things to keep in mind:
- This should be done on a known machine or mobile device and not downloaded onto unauthorized devices.
- This should be done by only individuals within the control group until the decision is made to adopt the technology into standard business processes
- Adopt an open door policy. Never discourage your employees from bringing up technology that they think could be helpful towards your business processes.
It can be difficult to change a process that appears to work very well, but with more and more Millennials taking over managerial positions in the workplace, business owners are finding that it’s necessary. Rather than being afraid of new technology, create a test group or technology R&D committee that can test drive each application before it is brought into the environment as a new piece of technology in your processes.