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Successful companies embrace shadow IT

Quinton Wall | May 21, 2013
Employees are deploying, building and procuring their own applications, and some CIOs embrace the practice.

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Businesses move quickly, and those that make missteps along the way or fail to adapt to the times rarely go unscathed. Consider the fate of the original 12 companies listed in the Dow. While General Electric is still an independent company, most of the others have been acquired by larger companies or have vanished altogether.

Some of the companies failed to compete effectively; others failed to adapt to the mega-trends of their times. Sometimes the trends move relatively quickly, like the impact of the automobile, radio and television. Few, however, have been as disruptive as software, which is dramatically changing how business is done.

Software has already transformed the music, media and book industries. Now it's rapidly reimagining nearly every business, large or small. Technology entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, in a 2011 Wall Street Journal column, "Why Software Is Eating the World,"examined how software delivered as services is disrupting most every industry.

In the time since that was published, Andreessen has been largely proven correct. And the trend, if anything, is accelerating.

Consider the fact that individual employees, managers and business units all increasingly becoming small IT departments as they leverage software (often delivered through cloud services) for every aspect of their work. Instead of turning to IT, they're building or buying what they need on their own to get the productivity apps, storage, collaboration tools, or whatever is necessary to do their jobs.

This trend comes in many different names: shadow IT, rogue IT the consumerization of IT. But the label doesn't matter. What matters is understanding the impact these actions have on IT as they work to stay aligned with their mandate to be the enterprise's central guide when it comes to managing infrastructure, applications and data.

By 2015, according to the research firm Gartner in its 2012 predictions, 35% of IT expenditures for most organizations will be managed outside of the IT department's budget. This shows workers are craving rapid access to infrastructure, applications and data they need to innovate and compete. And they're trying to create their own pockets of IT innovation while doing so. This may help speed access to applications and data, but it's also risky, as it increases enterprise IT costs over time through loss of centralized buying power, loss of governance over enterprise intellectual property, and increased security and compliance concerns.

How do IT teams successfully harness the innovation their internal customers are trying to realize while also obtaining the necessary level of governance over shadow IT systems growing within?


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