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Shadow IT could be the secret key to business growth

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Kzenon)

Shadow IT, which refers to the use of unapproved tools by employees, could actually propel business growth in the months and years to come, claims a new report from Forcepoint and Fujitsu.

According to the report, Covid-19 and the remote working boom have resulted in “unprecedented” levels of shadow IT. There has been a reported 45 percent increase in the usage of communications apps in early 2020 alone.  

This means plenty of headaches for cybersecurity experts, who have lost visibility over who can access sensitive data. Companies also risk straying the wrong side of data protection regulations such as GDPR.

“With up to 40 percent of total IT spend on shadow IT, and at the end of a first phase of rapid change, now is the time for businesses to address the temporary fixes that were put in place to support sustainable growth,” the report states.

So, how can businesses turn this situation around? According to Fujitsu, firms should focus on uncovering and rating cloud apps, identifying over-exposed data and risky users, classifying and protecting data, ensuring compliance and data privacy, crowdsourcing digital transformation and remediating incidents.

By ticking off these boxes, businesses may be able to take the edge off shadow IT and improve productivity to boot.

“It is human nature to seek workarounds, if IT protocols appear to compromise employee productivity or if solutions are not readily available to workers. People today are simply trying to get their jobs done in unusual circumstances," said David Barnett, Director of Edge Protection at Forcepoint.

“The balance of security and productivity is difficult for businesses, as they navigate keeping critical data safe while enabling employees to innovate and use the tools that work best for them. In today’s cloud-based world, IT teams need to develop new methods and tools to manage these risks without limiting employee experience.”