Managing the Challenges of Shadow IT
Until recently, the main challenges facing IT departments were selecting the right hardware and software, deploying them quickly at minimal cost and keeping them working. However, a new challenge is edging its way up IT executives' list of concerns. Many employees are deciding for themselves what IT they need and are proceeding to use it in the workplace without corporate approval.
The risks related to this growing trend - termed Shadow IT - are huge. Because the IT department has not extended its security policies and technical solutions to the unauthorised technology, the company's IT environment and data may become considerably more vulnerable.
How should IT departments deal with the emergence of shadow IT? The answer - according to a new report published by Telstra - is to start listening to individuals and teams throughout the business to help ensure employees have access to the latest collaboration tools they want, empowering them to do their jobs more effectively.
The rise of the Superuser
The report, Rise of the Superuser, is based on a global survey of 675 IT decision makers in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK and the US. Critically, it reveals that than nine out of 10 IT leaders struggle to implement the communications and collaboration IT that employees really want in the workplace. These desired technologies range from video conferencing to desktop virtualisation.
Encouragingly, it did reveal a superior group of organisations - which we've called superusers - that are offering the collaboration tools employees demand and mitigating the threat of shadow IT. These companies are realising significant benefits as a result, and often find themselves ahead of the adoption curve and therefore with a strong competitive advantage.
For those looking to satisfy employee IT expectations and consequently achieve the associated gains and retain control of IT, there is much to learn from the superusers leading the charge.
Listen to employees
The first lesson is to listen to what employees are saying. The signs of a sea change in corporate IT are difficult to miss: fewer than 15 per cent of companies reported that end users actually fought the adoption of collaboration tools.
Sure enough, superusers report that it is the end users that are leading the adoption of collaboration tools. Also, they want them sooner rather than later. This implies that superusers are listening to their employees to a greater extent than other organisations and responding fast.
Address the Shadow IT threat
The report also highlighted that the principal roadblock to adopting employees' preferred IT was not ignorance, but the reality that other IT goals take precedence. Forty-seven per cent of respondents claimed that having higher priority IT projects prevented them implementing the technologies that end-users wanted.
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