The CA-sponsored tweet captured above fell into my Twitter stream this morning, and it started me wondering…
First, though, some context. CA (Computer Associates) are one of those big IT suppliers that no one outside of their immediate customers really understands. Software to manage software and that kind of thing (read: vested interest in the subject matter).
“Shadow IT” is the term that has emerged to describe technology in use in organisations that hasn’t been sanctioned by the IT department. It’s a bit of a vague term in my opinion… Does the ecommerce website of a supplier count as shadow IT? Probably not. How about Dropbox? Almost certainly…
The trouble I had with the CA tweet is for whom, exactly, is shadow IT a problem? For CA it’s obviously an opportunity to hawk more of their wares. But software to control software, reducing flexibility in the name of governance and security is probably the very cause of the use of shadow IT the first place.
For “the business”? Well, if you take a functional analysis, the use of shadow IT must be being driven by something, and that something is likely to be either inadequacy of the systems provided by official IT, a lack of understanding by staff of why they should be using official IT, or a combination of both. In that case shadow IT is a symptom, not a cause.
So that then leaves us with the IT department. And here’s the wake up call… As I’ve been long arguing, IT departments no longer operate in a monopolistic bubble: the internet, smart devices, and near ubiquitous connectivity means that there is now competition at every level for the in house IT team.
Talking about shadow IT as a problem is like Pepsi talking of Coca Cola customers as a problem. You’re not going to increase your customer base if you see your prospective customers in such negative terms.
So rather than Shadow IT and problems, maybe it’s time to reframe this as competitors’ customers and how to win them over?