Shadow IT: Embrace the Rebellion

Jason Antonucci, New Business Manager
Posted on Jul 12, 2018

Although Shadow IT is nothing new in the world of information technology, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent within industries of various sizes.

Having recently attended the Digital Workplace Experience Conference in Chicago, it was validating to hear that this was one of the big topics of discussion. Additionally, the conference was largely centered around best practices for internal workplace solutions and the experience employees have when utilizing those tools in his or her job.

Those in attendance at DWX were honing in on which solutions and platforms yield the highest adoption rate, most interactivity, task-related efficiency, and user personalization. Out of those metrics of success, the most important indicator of success is adoption because you can’t have the others without it.

But what if that tool or solution is being adopted without organizational approval? And what if a high number of employees within the organization have taken it upon themselves to start using outside tools or solutions? Employees using unapproved, tools, apps, or solutions within his or her day-to-day job is the very definition of Shadow IT.

Embracing Shadow IT

For most IT folks who are responsible for security and compliance, the thought alone can lead to some serious heartburn. CTO’s and CIO’s have been grappling with ways to prevent and stop the use of unapproved technologies in their organizations. But more recently, those same C-levels are finding ways to embrace it, instead of fight it. The notion that CTO’s and CIO’s at the world’s most successful companies are now adopting concepts from Shadow IT was a significant takeaway from DWX. Rather than a threat, it’s now being treated as receiving direct user feedback.

Think of it this way, when employees within an organization adopt an outside solution, tool, or app, your employees are telling you what they believe works, what they like, and that they ultimately want to do their job better and more efficient. This is invaluable feedback; not a rebellion against IT. Trends show that cloud-based products are here to stay, and less and less of IT spending goes through a centralized IT group or office. In fact, research by Everest Group shows that Shadow IT already comprises over 50% of IT spending. It’s quite enlightening to recognize that employees are telling you what they want… without actually saying it. So watch what they are doing and what tools they are using.

In talking with a number of IT, communications, and HR professionals during DWX, they all seemed to have an idea of how an ideal internal tool or solution should operate, but were struggling to find “their version” in the sea of SaaS products and enterprise level software.

Adopting New Technologies

At Imarc we don’t let SaaS products or enterprise-level software dictate the experience and functionality. We are solution-agnostic. Our initial focus is to get an extremely thorough and deliberate understanding of what is needed by the users, not just the top-level stakeholders. Once we obtain intimate knowledge of the user’s needs and a thorough understanding of the objectives, only then will Imarc begin to tailor a solution precisely to the user’s needs and expectations. Our work on JetBlue’s Intranet is a prime example of this approach, and a major reason why it is so highly regarded.

By the way, when your CFO asks about the benefits of this approach, you can tell them that with this process your company will OWN the custom solution. That’s right – no licensing fees and unlimited seats.

So if you feel like you’re sorting and attempting to decipher a multitude of “plug and play” SaaS products and enterprise software, take a step back and remember what we said was the most important aspect to introducing a new solution in your organization -- adoption by your employees. Study your employee’s use of Shadow IT applications. Then, let’s talk!

Be sure to check out our internal applications case study to see more of Imarc’s work!

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