Friday, 11 October 2013

Minimizing the risk of shadow IT

The proliferation of highly accessible technology and mobile devices has led to a generation of tech-savvy employees that know what software features they want and how they want them.
The proliferation of highly accessible technology and mobile devices has led to a generation of tech-savvy employees that know what software features they want and how they want them. Or, at least, it has led to a generation of employees that consider themselves tech-savvy enough to handle enterprise data without posing a risk to their organizations. As a recent CloudTech article suggested, however, employees are not always conscious of data security best practices.
The issue of shadow IT is often presented with employees utilizing public cloud storage services such as Dropbox, but it can apply to any service that business units leverage for work without IT's knowledge.
"Sales directors, for example, might spend part of their opex on cloud-based sales management systems," the article stated. "They know the tools their team needs to perform better, they have mapped out the spec with their colleagues for a particular cloud-hosted application and have taken recommendations from peers."
The problem is that business teams may not have the technical expertise to ensure that solutions are implemented appropriately. Additionally, the article warned that business teams may not be as well positioned to evaluate different providers and choose the cloud service that best fulfills their needs. This means that companies must bridge the gap between technical and non-IT employees to ensure cloud strategies are appropriately aligned.
While it can be helpful to assign someone the responsibility of managing all cloud initiatives, this is not always the most viable option. Furthermore, it may still leave sensitive digital assets outside of the IT department's control.
Addressing the shadow IT trend
Companies may be better served by addressing the shadow IT trend at the root cause. The fact that employees are provisioning their own IT resources indicates that current options are not fulfilling their needs. As a result, IT departments should evaluate their strategies and ensure that they are meeting the expectations of business units. Vawns Guest and Patrick Bolger, members of the Transition Management Special Interest Group, wrote a ComputerWeekly article in which several factors are outlined that technical teams should consider in refining their strategies, including:
  • Service performance
  • Service availability
  • Business challenges and requirements
  • Outstanding issues
"The information worker has never been under greater pressure to remain productive, both in the workplace and at home," the two wrote. "Imposing more restrictions and preventing access to tools on the corporate desktop is a pointless exercise, when everything the user needs is available on their personal mobile phone or tablet."
As a result of the new demands on business units, IT departments face greater pressure to meet higher expectations and to consider factors such as user experience more so than they have in years past.
"The information worker has never been under greater pressure to remain productive, both in the workplace and at home," the two wrote. "Imposing more restrictions and preventing access to tools on the corporate desktop is a pointless exercise, when everything the user needs is available on their personal mobile phone or tablet."
As a result of the new demands on business units, IT departments face greater pressure to meet higher expectations and to consider factors such as user experience more so than they have in years past.
Brain Brafton loves and lives technology. A big data geek and an information retrieval junkie he consumes, analyses, interprets and process data like he was a machine. On a continual learning iteration his believe life is a journey not a destination. To keep in contact with Brain find him on Google+ or on Twitter

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