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CIO Insights: Dealing with shadow IT

Rebecca Merrett | Feb. 3, 2014
Three Australian IT leaders share their advice

shadow IT

Businesses used to rely on experts to provide advice about which technology to buy. Now, users can purchase a service in no time with only a browser and a credit card, allowing them to bypass IT.

In this third installment of CIO Insights, we talk to three leading Australian technologists about how to deal with shadow IT and become a strategic business partner as opposed to the 'police department'.

Scenario: The CIO suddenly finds out that the chief marketing officer has purchased a software-as-a-service product for a marketing initiative. The CIO now needs to think about how the company's data will be secure and how the new product will integrate with other systems and infrastructure without having the opportunity to do any careful planning beforehand. The CIO is frustrated that the CMO didn't consult with IT on this initiative early in the process. The CMO feels that IT doesn't understand the tight deadlines of marketing.

What would you do in this situation?

Alex Jones, CIO at Synergy

Marketing obviously has an underlying view that they are going to get what they want more effectively without you. So the question that you have to ask yourself is: 'Why do they think I'm more of a barrier than an enabler?'

CIOs are famous for having personal inclinations towards mitigating as much risk as possible. The clear message here is that the CIO's desire to mitigate risk can be inconsistent with the objectives of the organisation.

It's actually not an effective way of mitigating those risks to just say 'no' when people come up to you. If the CIO tries to set up such tight rules where the business units are truly inhibited then that just generates a lot of frustration. Just saying 'no' when people ask them for something doesn't mitigate the risk because then they do it anyway - the CIO is failing to mitigate risk and add value.

You have to be seen to be adding value to the process, rather than getting in the way. The CIO is worried about data security, integration and wants careful planning - that's what makes IT perceived as being the barrier. Others think 'as soon as I come and ask you for something that's going to cost me $10, you are going to give me 1,000 reasons why I can't have it'.

There are now increasing numbers of opportunities for people to get their needs met with all of the software-as-a-service options; they have more options to get these things independently than they had before. Effectively, the bar is higher for IT because, relatively speaking, if there are more alternatives to what you have to offer, then you have to be better.

 

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