The Shadow (IT) Knows…

Who knows what IT lurks in the hearts of the business units? The Shadow knows!

“Shadow IT” refers to “IT systems and IT solutions built and used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval.”  That sounds bad.  Costs, security, and standards may be out of control.

But – the Wikipedia definition goes on to say that “shadow IT is considered by many an important source for innovation and such systems may turn out to be prototypes for future approved IT solutions.”  In today’s environments, that often means the use of public cloud services.

So how do leading shared services organizations address shadow IT while supporting customer innovation?

One of the secondary benefits of outsourcing (and ironically a root cause of outsourcing’s criticism – but that’s a topic for another post) is that it makes IT services and costs apparent – rather than hidden in the shadows.  That benefit allows enterprise cost management and simplifies standardization, but typically at the expense of the end customers’ unique and ever-changing requirements.

And regardless of the central, shared services organizations intentions – the end customers do innovate.  Unfortunately that innovation may be partly to circumvent enterprise standards (or constraints) more than it is to achieve business goals.

Many entities are struggling with how to address shadow IT.  How can we let innovation flourish while effectively managing compliance, integrity, availability, and cost?

A recent article in Government Technology describes how some public sector entities are addressing the issues: “Why Public CIOs Are Attempting to Move ‘Shadow IT’ to ‘Shallow IT'”.


– Tim Ryckman, 28-May-2015 – [bio]

Tim Ryckman