5 Ways your business can combat shadow IT

Complicated IT procedures, long waits for support tickets, and limited enterprise app availability makes it hard for employees to do their jobs. Because they want to do well and get more done in less time, employees find third-party cloud apps and other solutions better than what IT currently offers. According to research from CipherCloud, company IT policy doesn't permit 86 per cent of applications used by employees. Other research suggests that as much as 35 per cent of corporate IT spend goes toward shadow IT.

When employees use unauthorised cloud apps to do their work, these third parties inevitably collect company data. The safety of customer, supplier, and partner information — and the security of the company’s intellectual property — depends on what third parties do to protect your data. To combat shadow IT, improve your service delivery and the applications you offer. When you can’t win, take some advice from Looney Tunes: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

1. Go Full-on Cloud

Today’s knowledge workers need flexible and available IT resources. When your applications don’t work effectively or when workers need more computing power, they look elsewhere for the resources they need. If you haven’t fully migrated to the cloud, it’s time to make a complete cloud commitment. Cloud security tools for business are getting better all the time, so don’t let security fears keep you from taking advantage of the cloud.

For small businesses and startups, public cloud infrastructure is an affordable way to get more network, compute, and storage resources. Larger companies usually prefer to keep some things in their own datacenters using a private cloud solution, but they also need a scalable public cloud to be available when they need it. Your own mix of public, private, and hybrid cloud should be customized to the way you do business. No matter what you choose, it’s time both to store data and power application resources on cloud infrastructure.

2. Inventory What Your Employees Are Using

IT workers sometimes come across as enforcers instead of partners, so employees often hesitate to disclose their shadow IT doings when asked. At the same time, IT needs a full picture of which third party apps employees are using and what’s happening to data within those apps.

Carefully select the right person to approach employees and get them to ‘fess up to which apps they’re using. Collect URLs and authentication information, and then review what employees are storing with outside SaaS and cloud infrastructure providers.

3. Standardise the Most Important Services

Instead of micromanaging all employee activities, standardise the most commonly used applications. Prioritise functions that involve data transit, such as file sharing, enterprise social media, and instant messaging. Involve employees when choosing a solution; for example, if many of them are using Dropbox for file sharing, find out why they like it. Then, either choose the solution they prefer or find an alternative that offers the same advantages.

4. Make Access Simple

When logging into the company network takes forever, and when applications run slowly, employees feel impatient, and they’re more tempted to seek outside resources. Investigate solutions like single sign-on to make it more convenient to access company resources, and only require the corporate VPN for highly sensitive applications and data.

Transitioning to speedier cloud infrastructure should make your applications run more quickly, but if employees complain about problems like latency and downtime, fix those problems quickly.

5. Set Up a Great Enterprise App Store

Instead of being protective of the app catalog you have, revamp it to give employees the apps they want. Involve them in the selection process, and only veto their ideas if you have compelling concerns about expense, data security, licensing, or other major issues. Also, pay special attention to the user experience your enterprise app store offers. When you make it easy to navigate and fun to shop, employees will want to use your app store instead of looking elsewhere.

Give Employees a Reason to Come Back

Market competition benefits consumers by forcing businesses to offer better products. In the same way, shadow IT forces your IT department to compete for employee business. Poor IT service delivery is a huge driver for shadow IT. Instead of investing too much in enforcement, focus on creating a better IT experience.

To learn more about IT security in the cloud, click here.