The rise of Shadow IT – should CIOs take umbrage?

A recent article from Logicalis Australia discussed Shadow IT, sometimes know as Stealth IT, and how CIOs need to re-assert themselves in their organisations as other departments take the lion’s share of IT budget. Joanne James, VP of International Marketing for Logicalis, takes a closer look at the issue.


Managed Services free up IT staff to allow them to focus on improvement rather than maintenance.

According to a recent survey by Gartner, by 2017 the Chief Marketing Officer will spend more on IT than the CIO. Shadow IT broadly refers to technology introduced into an organisation that has not passed through the IT department. A familiar example of this is BYOD but, significantly, Shadow IT now includes enterprise grade software and hardware, which is increasingly being sourced and managed outside of the direct control of the organisation’s IT department and CIO. Examples include enterprise wide CRM solutions and marketing automation systems procured by the marketing department, as well as data warehousing, BI and analysis services sourced by finance officers.

So why have so many technology solutions slipped through the hands of so many CIOs? I believe a confluence of events is behind the trend; there is the obvious consumerisation of IT, which has resulted in non-technical staff being much more aware of possible solutions to their business needs - they are more tech-savvy. There is also the fact that some CIOs and technology departments have been too slow to react to the business’s technology needs.

The reason for this slow reaction is that very often IT Departments are just too busy running day-to-day infrastructure operations such as network and storage management along with supporting users and software.  The result is first; no proactive recommendations from the IT department and second; long approval periods while IT teams evaluate solutions that the business has proposed. Add an over-defensive approach to security, and it is no wonder that some departments look outside the organisation for solutions.

The CIO who recognises these issues in his or her organisation can consider several steps to address it:

  1. Explore the use of a managed service provider to allow the internal IT team to focus on business improvement rather than maintenance
  2. Adopt the position of the internal consultant best placed to set the overall direction and manage stakeholder relationships – to ensure business and technology work hand in hand
  3. Embrace and exploit new ownership and consumption models with confidence to give people the tools they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

For the CIO who relishes a challenge, who understands the business and people he or she is serving, the emergence from the shadows of new and different ways of running IT will ensure, for the medium term anyway, that their role remains exciting and fulfilling.

Tags IT leaders, Managed Services, IT executives, Stealth IT, Outsourcing, Shadow IT, Business Strategy

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