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Rising Specter of Shadow IT | @CloudExpo #Cloud #ML #BigData #IoT

End-user analytics can expose the roots of the problem

As organizations try to increase their velocity and agility, there's a widening gap between the IT department and the provisioning of new services. This can lead to serious security risks and operational inefficiency. But if we really want to tackle shadow IT, we have to get to the root of the problem. Why are people bypassing the IT department or failing to ask management for permission? What can we do about it?

The shadow's growing longer
The rise of shadow IT is growing harder and harder to ignore. Brocade's Global CIO Survey 2015 found that, of the 200 CIOs asked, 83% reported some unauthorized provisioning of cloud services. This bypassing of the IT department makes it difficult to pull together an accurate picture of the company's software. Coupled with the continuing BYOD trend, which makes it hard to keep on top of all the hardware in use, IT departments are in danger of losing their grip.

A breakdown in communication
What's behind this circumvention of IT? If we take a look at CIO.com's State of the CIO 2015 survey, we find that 54% of line-of-business executives agree that non-IT departments view the IT group as an obstacle to their mission, and 33% of CIOs feel the same way. This kind of thinking is a recipe for disaster and it requires some compromise on both sides.

It should come as no surprise that executives tasked with meeting increasingly ambitious deadlines, and turning out new products and features as fast as possible, are seizing on perceived shortcuts. Meanwhile, many IT departments are locked in fire-fighting mode, and may struggle to communicate the logic behind their policies. There's a lack of transparency all round.

Fighting this trend by tightening control is not the answer. You have to address the reasons it's happening, or you may find that you're just chasing shadows.

Driven by poor user experience
The truth is, if employees were equipped with all of the tools they needed to do the job and the user experience with those applications was good enough, shadow IT would not be an issue. When employees are forced to cope with outdated or poorly designed applications and platforms they often end up looking around for something better.

It's not that IT departments don't care, they're doing their best in difficult circumstances, but they may not have a clear picture of how employees are really using applications and devices. Without understanding the business motivations and the user experience, they could be focusing their efforts in the wrong places. How do we change that?

End-user analytics
It's important to take stock and rationalize. In most organizations there's a lot of wasted effort going into supporting applications that simply aren't needed. Work out how many applications are actually in use. Investigate the impact of upgrades and migrations, and try to identify candidates for retirement. Prioritize the applications in use and cut out the dead wood. Set some performance expectations for what remains, based on analysis of the current user experience.

Armed with the right knowledge about how employees are working, it's possible to take a proactive approach to improving that end-user experience. The business will get more value out of the IT department and that should boost employee morale and efficiency. End-user analytics can also form a solid foundation for improved security; in fact Gartner predicts that end-user analytics and end-user protection will intersect by 2017.

Finding a nexus
The argument for closer collaboration and the benefits it brings is driving the DevOps trend, yet there are still major barriers between many IT departments and the business units they are supposed to facilitate. It takes time and effort to build understanding between departments but it's worth it. Some empathy can really boost cohesion. Proper end-user analytics are the first necessary step toward that understanding.

Ultimately, by building a clear picture of the end-user experience for employees, the IT department can really focus its efforts in the right places. Having a vision that embraces a common platform, such as MetaArc and workplace innovation such as Workplace Anywhere, allows IT and businesses to collaborate and reduces the risk associated with new technology adoption and legacy integration. That means accommodating business demands to reduce costs, increase agility, and maintain regulatory compliance. It means meeting user demands for flexible working and a personalized experience. It means fulfilling business technology demands based on a common platform that flexes with the evolution of technical innovation and supports multiple cloud and SaaS-based solutions. This preserves business flexibility and allows you to plug-in an ecosystem of partners like Citrix, Microsoft, and Google.

More Stories By Nicholas Lee

Nicholas Lee is Head of Global Digital Programs for Fujitsu, the leading Japanese information and communication technology company. Approximately 162,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. You can reach him at [email protected]

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