Shadow IT or IT in shadows?
When we started building our latest product, the ICT WebShop, we dug deep into to the world of self-service. What a mind job! When interviewing people outside IT (IT’s customers) we heard eye-opening rants about IT that demonstrated how utterly IT has forgotten the users.
IT was seen as a black hole. Employees didn’t know what is available, how and when. Some employees spent whole days figuring out how to order an access right to an application, and some had waited 3 months for IT to provide a server for an important project.
This incapability to serve the user has created the Shadow IT: IT activities that are handled completely outside the IT function.
Examples from real organizations:
- Employees use their own workstations and phones (this happens also in the Finnish Parliament)
- R&D teams ordered their mailing lists, servers, hubs and other IT resources from their own partners, instead of IT, because it was easier and faster.
- Cloud services are acquired without any communication with IT
- One business manager had even ordered the whole networking to a new factory because IT wasn’t able to deliver.
In an extreme case the official IT was replaced by an operations team that took IT responsibilities due to their better capability to manage the needs of the customer and deliver IT solutions.
Now Shadow IT isn’t all bad. In best cases it enables business units to pilot new services, achieve their goals faster, and develop their own operations. But there are couple things to be noted:
- IT should know about all IT activities
- Support responsibilities should be clarified, as end users will easily contact Service Desk, that will be unaware of the service if it hasn’t been introduced to IT at all
- End users should have an easy access to IT services, whether they are provided by IT or someone else
If this is not achieved, IT is left in the shadows. In the long run this creates an IT crisis caused by too many overlapping applications, unclear responsibilities and highly unsatisfied users.