IT organizations have been fighting the trend of “shadow IT” for many years, fearing it will cause them to lose control of the company’s technology environment and lessen the importance of IT staff. Perhaps it is time for a different perspective. Shadow IT doesn’t have to be a big deal (it can even be a good thing) if you manage the data effectively.
What is Shadow IT?
For decades, there has been an “understanding” of the roles that IT and business organizations should play relative to a company’s technology. IT is the provider of technology and business users are the consumers of technology. Business functions convey their needs to IT in the form of requirements and IT then determines what systems to implement to fulfill those needs. This arrangement worked well when technology decisions were complicated, installing IT systems was costly, and business users were not tech-savvy.
“Shadow IT” is really nothing more than the business users making technology decisions for themselves. With the proliferation of SaaS and other commercially available technology components that can be purchased with a credit card and implemented within a few minutes, business users feel empowered to make technology choices and adopt new systems without consulting with IT. For obvious reasons, IT staff view this behavior as a threat and have given it a label (and stigma) of being dark and shady. Perhaps it’s time to shed the light on shadow IT and accept that (in many companies) it is now mainstream behavior.
The roles of software and data have changed. The past decade has changed all of that and led to the emergence of “shadow IT” functions. Now the requirements for integration has grown many times over as more devices, applications and data sources have exploded, at the same time companies demand rapid time to value, they demand tools that are easy to learn, deploy, monitor as well as repair integrations over a period of time. This is forcing companies to look at more resources than just integration specialists to handle integrations, they want integration tools that have separate UX and UIs to support the needs of various integration personas from high code UX to low/no code UI to support the needs of less skilled business analysts or LOB users.
Software was once seen as the company asset, something you invested in, managed in a portfolio, tracked through its lifecycle and attributed to business value creation. Data was just a byproduct of users interacting with software. With SaaS and inexpensive off-the-shelf software, the situation has swapped. Software capabilities are effectively disposable – with low switching costs and new options becoming available every day. Companies are learning that data (on the other hand) is an asset with durable value, even if the software that created it is gone.
It is time for IT to embrace their information charter
IT organizations have always had a dual charter of managing both information and technology for the company. When technology was the difficult problem and strategic asset, it made sense that IT focused on hardware and software. Now that it is clear that data is where the real strategic value lies, perhaps it is time for IT to embrace the information part of their charter and let business users handle more of the technology decisions on their own. If IT can develop a set of processes to capture and manage the data created, modified and consumed in the myriad of applications that business users consume, shadow IT doesn’t have to be a big deal anymore or something to stigmatize.
Actian Data Connect is a hybrid integration platform that empowers anyone to integrate anything, anywhere , anytime – including all the technology devices and software components that business users bring into your company’s environment. By managing data connections more efficiently, you can capture more of the assets that create real value for the company while enabling business users the freedom they desire to make autonomous technology choices. Shadow IT doesn’t have to be something you fear – it can be a powerful tool to enable business agility. To learn more, visit www.actian.com/dataconnect