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Shadow IT – Threat or Opportunity

  • Posted by: Pete Summers

The IT world lives in a constant state of change, a battle of wills between the people running IT and their internal customers. The latest battleground is Shadow IT in which anybody with just a credit card can purchase a new service, completely bypassing the IT department, procurement and all the carefully set up processes which have been in place for years.

So, is this the biggest threat to the traditional IT department has ever faced; and to be honest does that matter if people are getting what they need to do their job?

What it is all coming down to is your company. Are you defensive or innovative?

A defensive company wants strong control over these purchases, they need to limit employees to the company agreed products which have been fully vetted. These are companies that are concerned with security around data, ensuring that spend is tightly controlled.

An innovator is ready to throw away the rule book and discard what has come before. They allow employees to use the latest and greatest web apps. This, though, can leave a trail of subscriptions to products which you’re getting no value out of and to be honest perhaps not even using. How do you know which of these services are the winners?

So, if there is no obvious right answer is there a right approach? Yes. Whichever way your business leans it needs to understand what is being used and how. With that information you can either stop unauthorized usage quickly or work with those providers to transform your approach.

That’s a great opportunity for everyone but what’s been the response from the main players on helping people with this challenge; here’s a list (without attributing them to save their embarrassment):

  • Work with Finance to understand any bills coming in the organization in case they are using IT services
  • Use SaaS providers APIs to monitor
  • Have people talk to each other more
  • Make sure you are providing better solutions than external providers

Really? That’s the best they’ve got. Well sorry but that just doesn’t cut it.

Now just imagine that there was a tool that could tell you all the Web Applications that people have accessed and how they have used them. Well, Asset Vision’s web usage discovery can help you recognize what SaaS products people are accessing, and its Web Usage Metering can identify how long they are using them for and how intensive that use is. You can even include and track costs in the calculation.

And because Asset Vision treats on-premise and web applications the same way, you can identify products being used that do the same thing, however they are accessed, allowing IT departments to take back control without impacting on the culture of your company.