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Bringing Shadow IT Into the Light

Citizen developers, as well as other business users, are reshaping businesses through the spread of shadow IT projects. Here’s how to harness that innovative energy and diminish the risks without locking everything down.

Shadow IT is the unauthorized use of software, hardware, and cloud services. Typically, users skirt official IT channels in order to complete their work faster and easier. If they secretly use these things for other purposes, then that’s a far more serious security concern for the business. But by and large, there’s fruit to be harvested on both sides of this forbidden tree.

“In this era of hybrid and remote work, having some tolerance for shadow IT and enabling employees or their departments to choose their own tools can have great benefits,” says Eric Christopher, CEO of Zylo, a SaaS management provider.

But it’s not just the changing nature of work that’s causing businesses to do a double take on Shadow IT. Plain exhaustion and too few hours in the workday are driving its adoption, too.

An Economic Intelligence Unit report underscores the unsustainability of current IT processes, finding that “IT backlogs are significant and IT's control over the digital infrastructure is slipping.”

But that’s understandable. IT teams are understaffed and overwhelmed after the sharp increase in support demands caused by the pandemic, says Rich Waldron, CEO, and co-founder of, a low-code automation company.

“Research suggests the average IT team has a project backlog of 3-12 months, a significant challenge as IT also faces renewed demands for strategic projects such as digital transformation and improved information security,” Waldron says.

There’s also the matter of employee retention during the Great Resignation hinging in part on the quality of the tech on the job.

“Data shows that 42% of millennials are more likely to quit their jobs if the technology is sub-par,” says Uri Haramati, co-founder and CEO at Torii, a SaaS management provider.

“Shadow IT also removes some burden from the IT department. Since employees often know what tools are best for their particular jobs, IT doesn’t have to devote as much time searching for and evaluating apps, or even purchasing them,” Haramati adds.

In an age when speed, innovation and agility are essential, locking everything down instead just isn’t going to cut it. For better or worse shadow IT is here to stay.

Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek.

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