The consumerization of technology has increased expectations among employees for better user experiences and instant access to the latest and greatest tools and software. They’re not willing to wait until IT rolls out new software, applications or devices when they can procure and manage just about anything they need from their personal mobile devices.
In fact, entire lines of business are taking advantage of easy-to-buy public cloud services — often without the knowledge, or at least the approval, of their companies’ IT departments. It’s called “shadow IT,” and it poses numerous challenges for IT staffs — particularly in terms of security. When a security lapse occurs, IT can’t successfully fight what they don’t know they are fighting.
Strict policies that punish employees for procuring IT services on their own can be difficult to enforce and often just pushes rogue users deeper into the shadows. However, employing a hybrid IT strategy can help resolve the shadow IT dilemma. The following suggestions may help.
Accept that multiple IT environments (hybrid IT) and services are “good for business.” Applications and workloads work better in some IT environments than others. The goal is to optimize performance of those applications. This may require a change to the IT environment. If employees need to leverage cloud services, assist them. This allows IT to have some say into how the cloud is used.
Know When to Let Go
Don’t fear loss of control (or possibly jobs) because of outsourcing some IT services to third-party vendors. Look at it as a way of freeing up the IT staff’s time to focus on more strategic endeavors. It’s less time consuming to manage third-party vendors than to actually perform all the tasks they take on for your company. Plus, you don’t have to worry about maintaining the specialized expertise in-house that may be required for some of the outsourced services such as regulatory compliance and security.
Take on the Role of Broker
Adopt an IT as a Service (ITaaS) model. Rather than serving as a gatekeeper of information and resources, become a broker for IT solutions from service providers and from the IT department itself. Understand what services your IT department can and should be delivering. Then determine what other IT services may be needed, and identify optimal sources for delivering them.
Communicate and Collaborate
Help employees understand the benefits of keeping the IT department involved in technology purchasing decisions. IT can often help determine if others within the organization want the same IT solution, which creates opportunities for better deals due to volume purchasing. IT can also weigh in on options that may be as good or better than the IT service being sought — or that already exist within the company.
Stay Ahead of the Game
Step up internal training to help keep your staff on top of the latest technology advancements. Don’t be caught off guard by a new disruptive technology that could benefit one of your company’s business units. The goal is to help everyone throughout the company understand that the role of IT is not slow them down, but to help them achieve their business goals. In many organizations, IT is perceived as a bottleneck that prevents timely innovation. Create new processes for fast-tracking approved technologies.
Enable Hybrid IT
As the intermediary for an array of cloud and colocation services, the IT department can and should enable hybrid IT as a way of meeting the demands of its users. When employees can get what they need from their IT departments, they won’t have to circumvent them.
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