Shadow IT and Automation

ShadowsShadow IT is what people call systems within an organization which grow up without explicit official approval, usually outside the IT department.

So often the IT department doesn’t have time to provide for all the departments, doesn’t have the expertise within a particular area to meet the real needs of all the departments, or has to go through compliance steps which interfere with speed and agility.

And sometimes an ERP which is supposed to track production is more focused on business aspects than on the data needed for production. It’s no wonder people take things into their own hands.

There are consequences, though. Shadow IT can lead to all of these problems:

  • information silos
  • inefficiencies from lack of integration
  • inefficiencies from jerry-rigged solutions set up by people with limited IT background
  • poor ROI from official IT because it’s not used
  • security issues when multiple cloud solutions are in use without shared protocols in place
  • negative effects on organizational unity as secret IT fiefdoms develop

What’s the solution? Solutions originating from the IT department tend to focus on getting people to follow rules.

How’s that going? We know that people don’t always follow safety rules that keep them from losing fingers. Why should we expect people to follow rules because IT tells them to?

It might be more effective to focus on identifying the experiential factors that lead to shadow IT. If your engineers want mobile solutions instead of paper for their regularly scheduled machine checks, why not provide that? It’s not an unreasonable request.

IT departments may be able to leverage their cooperation with requests like these into agreements to follow more of the rules.

In many cases of shadow IT, people aren’t even aware that they’re doing anything wrong, or that what they are doing has any affect whatsoever. It’s important that everyone knows what constitutes as shadow IT, and what the possible issues with working around the IT department can be.




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