Shadow IT, which is defined as the application of unauthorized web-based tools and services inside the workplace, isn’t quite as secretive as it sounds as C-level executives, employees, and people within IT departments are increasingly purchasing, downloading, and/or accessing apps and services without going through corporate channels. For companies of virtually any size, shadow IT is gaining traction for a variety of reasons, but the primary one is that solutions can be accessed without waiting.
The availability of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions means that employees and other people within an organization don’t have to wait for development by or approval from the IT department for implementation. In this environment, if tools are available that can improve the quality of work, productivity, etc. SaaS apps are being accessed and used, either with or without corporate knowledge or supervision.
The good news for businesses is that, in the vast majority of cases, employees take the shadow IT route to be able to perform their jobs better through the use of third party apps that are superior to those that have corporate approval as well as solutions with which they are familiar and comfortable. This benefit, however, also carries with it a major challenge; shadow IT is gaining traction in the workplace, leading to the exponential growth of potential access points for hackers. Despite the dire warnings of the increased risks as well as actual cases where networks have been compromised via unauthorized SaaS solutions, the uptake of shadow IT across all levels remains unabated.
In this environment, enterprises of all sizes are faced with two realities:
- Shadow IT isn’t going away – The evolution of services that are being developed and offered by third parties is moving forward at a rate that the vast majority of in-house IT departments cannot maintain, meaning that the escalating deployment of unauthorized services is likely to continue.
- Enterprises have to get in front of these changes instead of trying to hinder them – By encouraging open communication in the workplace regarding shadow IT services, enterprises can surface apps that may add utility across their platforms while also being able to implement policies that increase their level of network security.
The rise of shadow IT brings opportunities as well as challenges. For enterprises, this rapidly changing landscape will require the flexibility to embrace third party services that add value as well as the vigilance to maintain security protocols to protect their networks on an ongoing basis.