3 Ways Shadow IT Can Sabotage Your Business

Shadow IT is the employee “do-it-yourself” practice of using a device or application to accomplish business objectives or resolve IT-related issues outside the scope of IT. The practice is a short-term productivity fix, but it is far from secure and it can have a direct effect on your bottom line and reputation.

If shadow IT is such a risky endeavor, then why do employees continue to do it?

Generally, the practice of shadow IT comes with good intentions from employees who are just doing their best to get the job done. However, the well-intentioned practice of shadow IT is not worth the business risk. Your business relies on data, whether it is financial resources, business plans, personnel records, trade secrets or customer lists and sales projections.

When hackers are able to access your data through shadow IT insecurities, they can have a direct effect on your bottom line and reputation.  While shadow IT comes with good intentions, they can get in the way of progress and sabotage your business objectives. Here’s a look at three different ways that shadow IT can sabotage business efforts:

#1 - Limited Visibility

“90% of CIOs worldwide are bypassed by line-of-business in IT purchasing decisions sometimes and 31% are bypassed routinely.” (Logicalis, “Report: The Shadow IT Phenomenon”)

Shadow IT limits operational visibility, which is crucial for IT.

Visibility allows IT to get ahead of problems, like catching security vulnerabilities or compliance violation risks. When it comes to shadow IT, there is little to no visibility; therefore, it becomes impossible for IT to protect an organization’s data and infrastructure effectively.

Shadow IT puts the privacy of sensitive consumer and corporate data at risk. There are particular types of data—like patient or credit card data—that require greater levels of protection due to their high value for cyber criminals. It is also impossible to protect and monitor the infrastructure or data when shadow IT practices are at play.

#2 - Data Silos

Data silos are also a common challenge caused by shadow IT.  A data silo refers to the disparate and decentralized location of data. Data silos are difficult for IT to manage, monitor, and protect. In turn, they also slow processes and limit connectivity.

Siloed, lost, and buried data is data your business can not use, whether that is sales performance data, customer data, or operational data.  Data-driven decision-making requires fast access to timely and relevant data. Inaccessible or stifled access to data slows everything down across the board, from IT operations to the line of business, and for executive leadership.

Data silos are missed opportunity.

#3 – Inefficiency

Shadow IT is an inefficient and risky way to manage business objectives.

Operational processes and procedures are critical components of the IT infrastructure. Shadow IT can be very intrusive on the consistency and reliability of these same processes and procedures. Consider how quickly processes can fall apart when the IT staff is dealing with requests to fix problems resulting from shadow IT.

For example, this happens when an employee needs to give IT personnel admin access to an unauthorized application or the additional step of adding the application to an IdP or “identity service provider.”