Do you know every web application your employees are using? There is a high probability that your workforce is utilizing many devices and applications without explicit approval. Collectively, these programs and devices are called Shadow IT. Shadow IT is essentially any application employees download or IT service they sign up for without vetting by your IT team. There was a time in business when any piece of software would go through a thorough vetting process. These days, times have changed.
In today’s technology environment, employees are always looking for the next new app or platform to increase productivity. Employees are becoming more and more tech savvy, and it is less likely that every portion of IT in use has gone through a thorough IT department vetting process.
At this point, it is difficult to imagine an organization that is not implementing Shadow IT. Managers and employees are now selecting their own IT services independently. In many ways, this allows employees to be more agile and productive. There are countless tools employees and departments may innocently implement without thinking they need to involve IT.
With file sharing solutions like Dropbox and Hightail, to free project management platforms like Asana, employees are constantly finding new ways to efficiently collaborate and share data from wherever they happen to be. They no longer need to be in the office to check the status of a project or access sensitive documents. In fact, Shadow IT also includes hardware, like personal laptops your employees might use to accomplish business-related tasks over the weekend. These devices may not be as secure as what they use in the office, and could expose your files to greater risks.
Certainly, no one wants to discourage employees from creating efficiencies. However, as a business owner, you should always balance risk and reward. The cost of increased employee productivity may be security. Not all employees understand when they are sharing sensitive business data in insecure ways. Employees are looking for ways to hit and exceed their goals, not necessarily thinking about cyber security. They are likely to choose programs for ease of use and convenience without noticing a lack of important security features like two-factor authorization or encryption.
In addition to an increased risk of data breaches or attacks by hackers, there are also many other hidden monetary costs associated with Shadow IT. Dozens of employees may be using the same application, but all are paying for it individually instead of benefiting from a volume-based discount. Costs like this add up and impact your business.
As a Small Business Owner, you don’t have the time to check every device for Shadow IT, or find out about every digital tool your employees are implementing. Your trusted Managed Service Provider has the knowledge to assess your organization’s Shadow IT usage. Sometimes, a gap in your existing, approved IT systems could cause employees to seek outside technology resources. Other times, one or two employees have found a tool that, if implemented correctly and with all proper security procedures, could improve productivity for employees across your business. We’ll bring your company’s Shadow IT into the light. We will help you evaluate the risks and benefits of the Shadow IT in place at your business, and work with you to determine the next steps. Don’t let Shadow IT go unchecked.