Shadow IT includes all IT systems used in a company that are not controlled by the IT department.
Shadow IT includes all IT systems used in an organization that are not controlled by the IT department. They are a response to obstacles and make it easier for you to complete work tasks effectively. Thus, the use of shadow IT is directly related to your business processes. Such systems can be used across all departments. Shadow IT, in definition, is therefore any IT system that you use but over which your IT has no control. By the way, the shadow IT definition is not limited to the area of software, but likewise the hardware.
Many companies still choose to ban specific applications. The result is a perpetual battle between users and the IT department. These disputes do not lead to a desirable outcome, which is why they use cloud services and software without consulting IT whenever possible: Whether it's to share a presentation or pass images to a colleague. The reason for this is not only the expediency, but also the necessity, of such services. In this way, individual employees, groups or departments bypass confrontation and use such shadow IT instead.
Shadow IT has long since ceased to be a new phenomenon. Surveys of IT managers found that more than half of employees use such software. Companies that employ innovative and young employees are particularly affected. They have the necessary knowledge and feel at home in the world of computers. Even if you follow particularly restrictive IT rules, you are tempting your employees to increase the proportion of shadow IT. Why is this? If employees are used to relying on convenient IT solutions in their private lives, they demand the same service in their professional lives. Cloud solutions that can be used even by people without in-depth IT knowledge are particularly popular.
The fact that shadow IT exists is not a problem in and of itself. Rather, it's the extent of it that is a negative. Because as soon as many different applications are used, the flexibility gained through individual solutions is lost. In addition, an excess of software solutions can cause cost planning to go off the rails. In such cases, duplicate purchases or underutilized licenses occur, leading to a significant increase in costs.
No, as long as shadow IT does not compromise IT security, there is no reason to consider it a threat. However, it can quickly become a complex and costly problem. That's why it's worth taking a closer look at the company's internal reasons. What are employees missing that they have to make do with shadow IT? Structural and strategic gaps create misalignment, which can be a more serious problem.
Managing shadow IT in the enterprise is a somewhat larger task. The best way to do this is to work with stakeholders on a regular basis. They can provide information about what software has been purchased. The result is that you can uncover your shadow IT and thus implement effective software license management.
Since employees don't buy their own software for work, a trail always exists toward company expenses. In most cases, it's expense or credit card statements, which you can use to locate software purchases. In this way, you can narrow down which cloud platforms employees are using in the company.
You need to keep software policies up to date at all times. Typically, these policies concern maximum limits on costs incurred. However, this no longer works when cloud services are used. This is because the monthly fees are low and usually fall below the defined threshold. Important: Even with effective management, you should not limit your company's innovation momentum.
To counter the problem of shadow IT, a few tools have long been proven effective. A SAM tool helps manage enterprise SaaS spend. At the same time, these tools provide a great way to keep track of the IT environment: Both on-premises solutions and cloud solutions.
Shadow IT is a major problem for internal IT departments. Although it seems essential for many employees, its use makes it difficult to meet IT security protection goals. It is better to integrate such cloud solutions or other software into the existing IT infrastructure. Clouds do represent rapid growth with increased penetration. Nevertheless, administrators can integrate them into the internal system and monitor them.
The extent of shadow IT within your company depends on the individual case. While every now and then it is a single employee who relies on subscription software, it can affect entire business units. To ensure IT security within your organization, you should therefore try to keep an eye on so-called shadow IT at all times.