More than ever before, CIOs and IT departments around the world are becoming more and more concerned with the concept of Shadow IT (also known as Stealth IT), including the amount of data stored in third-party cloud environments. Consider how many known software subscriptions your own organization manages. If you’re like most enterprise companies, that number is likely in the hundreds, if not thousands. And the number of applications each organization utilizes across its department is a number that continues growing as more and more Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) applications and subscription-based solutions are added to the market, each one fulfilling a need or a niche in the broader technology ecosystem.
And while the growth of SaaS is beneficial to organizations if each of those systems works well together, it can cause great concern to CIOs and IT departments when they don’t have proper visibility into or control over the technologies its employees are using. In this scenario, these executives are right to be concerned about security matters and sensitive customer or employee data.
The concept of Shadow IT isn’t a new concept for enterprise organizations, but as more and more employees and teams are empowered to purchase SaaS software on their own or for their departments—either through a traditional contract process or even via a company or personal credit card—the more Shadow IT can pose a threat to data stored in third-party cloud environments. However, Shadow IT is a “normal” for organizations that is very difficult to control (and sometimes impossible altogether). For IT executives, it’s best to cast a light on applications purchased in the shadows and embrace them with a SaaS optimization solution. Afterall, most Shadow IT purchases by employees or departments aren’t made out of malice or to hide purchases, but rather to expedite internal processes and avoid long and drawn out procedures.
Below are five trends facing today’s CIOs and IT departments along with suggestions for how they can face Shadow IT and third-party cloud environments.
The SaaS model is shifting the way organizations conduct business.
The rise of the subscription economy is continuing to shift the way organizations conduct business. Because of SaaS and the subscription economy, stakeholders across an organization are better connected and have more information and data at their fingertips. These innovations have allowed everyone across the spectrum of an enterprise—whether B2B or B2C—to operate more efficiently and with better accuracy.
Employees and departments are skipping the procurement process.
SaaS applications are incredibly easy to purchase and implement into current business processes as usually a transaction can be completed even without speaking to a sales person, often requiring just a few clicks of a button and a credit card. Employees and departmental leaders are skipping the procurement process as they can easily evaluate and purchase new software on their own, all while avoiding internal red tape. Employees and teams are making seemingly innocent and small purchases on their own with the intent of expediting the process.
As a result of Shadow IT, sensitive customer and internal information can be stored in third-party environments.
Results from The 2016 Global Cloud Data Security Study suggest that, “Many of these problems stem from the growth in shadow IT taking action beyond the reach of corporate governance. According to the survey, nearly half of cloud services are deployed by departments other than corporate IT, and an average of 47 percent of corporate data stored in cloud environments is not managed by the IT department.”
Because such a large portion of organizational data is unmanaged and unknown to IT departments, these critical teams are losing visibility and control of their organizational tech stacks, removing the ability to protect sensitive data and information that may be stored in third-party environments without their knowing.
Shadow IT can result in compromised data, redundant systems, underutilization, and over spending.
For IT teams without complete insight into the applications its organization is using, Shadow IT can cause issues in the form of compromised data, redundant systems, underutilization, and over spending. In addition, confusion can arise as employees have multiple options of systems to use for their daily tasks—each able to accomplish a similar result. Without protocols for each system, data can be stored in numerous locations.
IT departments that have complete visibility into all SaaS applications can prevent Shadow IT issues.
CIOs and IT departments need visibility and control into their entire SaaS tech stacks, not to own the procurement and decision process for new applications and renewals, but to help guide individuals and departments during the purchase process. When IT departments gain complete visibility into the technologies each department, team, or individual is using, it helps everyone across the organization make more economical decisions, but most importantly double down on important security measures to ensure that no sensitive information is stored in third-party cloud environments without proper oversight.