The Hidden Challenges of Shadow IT

Shadow IT

Written by Michael Higashi


By now, most enterprises are aware of the scope of the shadow IT problem and the cloud security issues it creates. There’s no doubt about it, shadow IT creates some of the most significant security and compliance challenges that the modern enterprises faces. But shadow IT raises other issues as well, ones that might not be as immediately obvious to the concerned administrator. Here are three.

  1. Redundancy

The problem with shadow IT is that everyone is adopting it shadow_IT_hidden_challengesaccording to their own needs, goals, and knowledge, with little information-sharing between workers or teams. For all an administrator knows, there could be five, ten, a dozen, or two dozen different file sync and share cloud apps in use in the organization, to name just one common offender. Redundancy creates a whole host of inefficiencies, both related to employee workflows and to the overall health of the IT ecosystem, in particular bandwidth use. Let’s face it, allowing employees to upload multiple copies of the same data to untold numbers of different file sharing services isn’t just a security risk but a bandwidth hog.

  1. Lack of standardization

While we’re on the topic of untold numbers of different file sharing services, let’s talk about the lack of standardization this creates. Consider a team hard at work on a major project, with team members frustrated by the IT-sanctioned solutions for sharing and collaborating on their work. In the worst case scenario, individual team members all adopt different shadow IT applications to make their jobs easier. It’s far more likely, of course, that the team will agree on a single shadow IT application, but even there, the lack of standardization with the rest of the organization becomes an efficiency problem when it comes time to share their work with a different team. As these scenarios play out across the organization, a tangled web of shadow IT confusion takes shape, dragging productivity down.

  1. Lack of control when it comes to external collaboration

And now we circle back to the basic problem shadow IT creates: a lack of visibility and control. Internal sharing confusion is one thing, but at least the data being shared is remaining within the enterprise. In today’s organizations, however, external collaboration is commonplace, and controls must be established to ensure that data is not shared inappropriately. Shadow IT prevents those controls from being implemented, since shadow IT applications are by their nature outside of IT’s control. This can lead to data leaks and compliance violations.

It’s imperative that enterprises gain control of their shadow IT and cloud adoption initiatives before it’s too late. How entrenched is shadow IT in your organization’s current culture? How many risks and challenges are slipping through the cracks?

To learn more about taking back control of your information workers’ cloud adoption and your organization’s cloud migration strategy, download our free white paper, “CIO’s Guide to Enterprise Cloud Adoption,” today.