Does your heart jump for fear when you hear of shadow IT? Your fear is understandable, and you’re not alone. Research shows that 69% of tech executives reveal that shadow IT is a high-security concern.
However, it’s not all bad news; there are benefits to be derived if your employees use unapproved applications and tools. Read on to find out how this practice can positively and negatively affect your business.
Knowing what shadow IT is helps you understand the practice and is the first step in enjoying the benefits. When employees use applications, platforms and tools without getting approval from the IT unit, they practice shadow information technology.
Shadow information technology (IT) include:
In business, one has to adapt or die. To adapt, you need to know both the positive and negative parts of a concept or practice. Let’s start with the positive aspect of shadow information technology (IT).
Without waiting to go through complex protocols, staff members can access resources needed to achieve their task on the go. This could lead to better efficiency and drive innovation in the company.
As a result of free or cheap apps that employees use in the workplace, a company can achieve its goals at less cost. Purchasing equivalent applications and tools could be very expensive for organisations. Shadow information technology helps save costs in this regard.
When employees look for alternatives for their IT needs, they reduce the load on the IT unit and resources of the company. This leads to better optimisation of these resources. The IT unit can focus on more complicated issues and tasks while staff members take care of their simple needs.
With employees using other devices and applications not approved by the IT department, there is the opportunity for data storage and backups in case the main system crashes. There have been cases where shadow devices and applications were a lifesaver when the central system of the organisation collapsed.
Everything that has advantages most likely has disadvantages. Such is the case of shadow information technology. Below are some of the negative impacts it has on business.
There’s a reason it’s called shadow information technology. It’s in the shadows and you can’t see it. Most of the time, employees use these IT tools and applications discreetly. Therefore, you cannot control their use because you can’t see them. Lack of control of the IT tools used in your organisation can expose you to numerous risks like misconfiguration, data breaches and policy violations, among others.
Where there is shadow information technology, staff members can store company data in applications not authorised by the company. When this happens, the data might be lost in the event of such employees’ resignations, which could cost the business considerable income.
This is the most dreadful risk this practice poses for a business. Using unauthorised and uncontrolled applications and software could expose the company to cyber criminals. This is because the company’s cybersecurity tools will not put in the shadow applications, exposing the business to hacks and attacks.
Having data in multiple locations can destabilize a company’s central information system. As a result of the It unit’s ignorance of shadow applications and tools, they’re unable to synchronise data activities. They cannot plan for security, capacity, infrastructure, performance and architecture in the organisation. This makes the system inefficient and easily compromised.
There are two sides to a coin; the same is true for shadow information technology in any organisation. The advantages of this practice include quick access to needed tools and resources, reduced costs, better IT use and backups for emergencies.
On the other side of the coin, you see a lack of visibility and control, loss of data, exposure to cyber risks and an inefficient system. Effective management is necessary to create a balance and ensure you get more advantages than demerits. How you manage the activities of shadow information technology will determine whether it will impact your business positively or negatively.