In the increasingly digital world of business, one phenomenon flies under the radars of many IT teams many radars: Shadow IT. It's the use of technology—software, hardware, services—without direct oversight or approval from the organization's IT department.
Although Shadow IT can spark creativity and enable quicker solutions, it also presents risks including security vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and unexpected costs.
In this article, we'll pull back the curtain on Shadow IT, its implications, and how businesses can approach its management.
We aim to provide a clear understanding of this often-unnoticed aspect of our digital workplace, be it for IT managers, executives, or those simply curious about the ongoing shifts in technology practices.
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT refers to when software, hardware, applications and devices are used by employees in a business without the authorization of IT teams.
Nowadays, most employees are fairly tech-savvy, and so can often choose to use software or connect devices without you knowing. For instance, an employee might opt to use a personal file-sharing app instead of the company-approved one because they find it more user-friendly, or a team may independently select a project management tool that best suits their specific needs, bypassing the official channels.
At first glance, this might seem like an efficient solution, enabling faster problem-solving and productivity. But, there are certainly some major drawbacks to this liberal approach.
What are the implications of Shadow IT on businesses?
The unauthorized use of hardware and software can present many challenges to IT departments. These largely stem from the inability of IT teams to monitor activity and enforce security procedures.
Why does this matter?
- Security Risks: This is the most immediate concern with Shadow IT. Unsanctioned applications and services may not adhere to the stringent security protocols set up by an organization's IT department.
- Compliance Issues: Many companies deal with sensitive data and compliance with data protection standards is critical. Shadow IT can lead to severe violations of these standards, as the data might be handled and stored in ways that don't comply with regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA. If applications aren’t visible to IT teams, they cannot see whether data is being handled correctly.
- Difficult for IT staff to support teams: Shadow IT can leave IT departments in the dark about what’s being used within the organization. This lack of visibility makes it challenging for IT to support users, troubleshoot issues, or plan for technology upgrades and changes.
How do I handle Shadow IT within my organization?
The key to mitigating Shadow IT is to understand exactly what software and systems your employees are actually using. Saaslio is a brilliant SaaS stack discovery tool that allows you to track and manage the applications being used in your business.
With our tool, you can fully secure your organization and mitigate security risks, while also being able to support your organization's ever changing needs with versatile management tools.
Moreover, one of the best solutions for Shadow IT involves correctly planning and rolling out the right software and hardware solutions for the job.
Every department will have different needs and IT staff should provide software solutions that fit efficiently into teams’ existing workflow. This removes the incentive for employees to ‘go rogue’ and use other applications.
Want to tackle Shadow IT within your business? Start your free trial today and uncover your SaaS ecosystem.