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Shadow IT – What Is It, The Risks and The Benefits

With the business realm evolving at a seemingly faster pace, organisations have started shifting to using an array of technologies, not only to streamline their operations but also to help them in their processes.
One such shift has been the adoption of Shadow IT by many companies and in today’s blog, that’s what we’ll be talking about.
Let’s dive in and take a look at what Shadow IT is, what it means for your business and the risks and benefits that it brings to the table. By the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll have a fair understanding of Shadow IT and whether or not your business requires it.

What is Shadow IT?

Put simply, Shadow IT means leveraging applications, devices, IT systems and services, without taking approval from your business’ IT team.
This concept has grown at a faster rate over the past few years, thanks to the increased use of cloud-based applications and services by the majority of organisations.
Popular examples of these applications include Dropbox and Slack, whereas some really good examples in terms of hardware Shadow IT would be tablets and smartphones.

Why Have IT Users Turned to Shadow IT?

Given its increasing popularity, Shadow IT has become inevitable!
Several users have adopted Shadow IT practices, primarily to accomplish their tasks in a way that makes their life easier. In fact, a research investigation found that nearly 30-40% of purchases in a firm involved Shadow IT spending. However, another research article showed that these figures were actually closer to 50%.
So, why is it that IT users have moved to this practice?
Well, although only part of this issue lies with the organisations themselves, the two major reasons why this happens are:

  • Companies do not offer the necessary support that an IT user requires to use different technologies
  • The governance, provisioning and approval process is too ineffective and slow

Additionally, insufficient collaboration and communication between IT teams and developers bottleneck the whole flexibility and speed of the IT support that’s needed for approval. At the same time, limited security capabilities prevent businesses from approving the use of new tech, even when they want to leverage the latest IT solutions.

The Benefits of Using Shadow IT

Now that you know what is Shadow IT and why many IT users have started adopting this approach, let’s understand the benefits that it has to offer.

  • The use of Shadow IT allows your employees to work efficiently, essentially in a way that makes things easier for them, whilst also driving innovation. For instance, if your employees were to find an editing application that’s easier and less complicated than the one allowed under your IT policy, they can’t use it with Shadow IT.
  • This approach sets your staff free from the business’ IT security policy and enables them to use tech that offers better results.
  • One of the best benefits offered by Shadow IT is that it helps prevent bottlenecks in the company, which often occur when employees need to seek approval from their IT team to use a new platform.


The Risks of Using Shadow IT

Even though it’s worth considering the benefits offered by this approach, it’s also important for you to factor in the security risks that Shadow IT can bring to the table.
In simple terms, your IT department needs to be aware of the app, platform or device that’s being used by your employees, because that’s the only way they can ensure that it’s safe for both your staff and your organisation. Doing so will also put emphasis on your individual members to properly manage their unofficial apps or devices and take security measures against potential threats.
Since the nature of certain Shadow IT platforms and applications can be too risky, you need to educate your team about them. Otherwise, this could make your business vulnerable to real danger, such as sensitive data being leaked from file-sharing apps, resulting in reputational damage.
To protect your organisation from potential cyber threats and keep your data secured, get in touch with our IT professionals today!

Contact Redpalm for All Your IT Related Needs

Now, although you might know what is Shadow IT and its risks and benefits, make sure you contact a professional IT firm like Redpalm before allowing your employees to leverage it.
Our team will not only give you detailed insight but also offer you the best IT solutions to help protect your business from falling prey to possible attacks. We will also provide you with robust security measures that you can implement throughout your organisation.
Give us a call on 0333 006 3366 or drop us an email on