Shadow IT: a ticking bomb in the enterprise

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Shadow IT: a ticking bomb in the enterprise

Whatever your industry, there is a good chance that your company is a victim of Shadow IT. What are we talking about? Shadow IT refers to employees using software, systems or applications not approved by the IT department. File-sharing applications, online messaging, no-code connectors… In SMEs as well as in SMBs, Shadow IT can take many forms, but always puts your company at risk.

Shadow IT: definition

Shadow IT has existed since the beginning of the Internet. The exponential growth of cloud-based services has accentuated the phenomenon. Now, when employees need a tool to solve a problem, they can easily find a solution by themselves. They have become accustomed to using services deemed useful via the Cloud, without thinking about the potential risks. This practice has only increased with the widespread use of remote work, limited budgets, insufficient support from higher ranks and a general lack of communication.

So, the main motivation behind Shadow IT is admirable: employees look to work more efficiently, by equipping themselves with what they believe to be the best tools. The problem is that they do it at the expense of the IT department.

By circumventing corporate security policies this way, Shadow IT users completely bypass IT managers and may unintentionally put their organization at risk. Indeed, as they are not informed of the use of this or that application, the IT team cannot ensure the security and compliance of the said application. 

Shadow IT: what are the risks?

Shadow IT: a security risk 

The software or services used in Shadow IT have not been subjected to the audits and security requirements of the IT department, which can lead to customer compliance issues. They may also be less secure, have known security flaws or be targeted by cybercriminals. If employees use these technologies to access sensitive or confidential company data, data leaks or cyber-attacks are to be feared. Hackers know these cloud applications are privileged entry points to access sensitive company data.

Shadow IT: a compliance risk

By letting staff use unapproved services, the company risks of ending up with software that does not comply with current regulations, particularly regarding privacy or data security. Not complying with the RGPD, and therefore the law, can be costly. 

Shadow IT: a risk of hidden costs

Shadow IT can lead to hidden costs, such as unauthorized licensing fees or additional maintenance costs to maintain non-standard technologies. At the scale of an enterprise, the bill can quickly become very high!

Shadow IT and management issues

Shadow IT makes managing and controlling the company’s technology infrastructure difficult, leading to inefficiencies and coordination problems between different solutions. Unofficially selected technologies may not be compatible with the “official” ones, making coordination between various departments more difficult. At the same time, not monitoring these technologies makes managing the company’s infrastructure more complex.

Shadow IT and risk of dependency

If employees are too dependent on unauthorized technologies or services, the company may face problems if these technologies or services are interrupted or stopped. A loss of data would be a potential and unwanted scenario.

Shadow IT: what solutions?

Audit the teams

The best way to avoid Shadow IT is, first of all, to know the extent of the problem. Discover which “non-certified” applications are used by interviewing employees allows you to map the applications used and bring  problems that have not been identified to light. Do a large number of employees use online storage tools? There is a risk of document confidentiality, as well as demand for additional backup and file-sharing capacity.

Communicate with the teams

It is essential to communicate and raise awareness among teams, because the risks of Shadow IT sometimes are only known by some. The audit report is the first step in setting up an exchange with the teams. Business employees may have identified valuable applications, which simply require approval from IT. This is a good way to strike a balance between allowing employees to use specific tools, while allowing IT to control the data and permissions granted to use them.

It is also a good practice to take preventive measures to monitor and manage unapproved cloud solutions and other applications. 

Low-code: a relevant solution to Shadow IT

But if the problem can easily be solved when Shadow IT concerns the use of widespread tools such as Slack or Google Docs, things get more complicated when it comes to performing simple automation without knowledge from IT. In the context of a digital transformation, for example, it is not uncommon for the CDO and his teams to resort to connectors and no-code solutions to move forward more quickly on their project. Because they don’t have the time to wait for a developer to be available to meet their needs, the business may decide to go it alone. The root of this problem is overloaded IT departments and long processing times that clash with the productivity needs of the rest of the company. 

Therefore, an effective solution to fight against the IT Shadow is to turn to low-code tools that significantly reduces development time, by offering developers already written code bricks. All of this, with a high degree of agility and the possibility of meeting the business demands.

Moreover, low-code tools can be used by junior developers who are more available than their more experienced peers. It is much easier to recruit junior profiles for internships, work-study programs, or first jobs, while experienced profiles are rare. Thanks to low-code tools it is possible to prevent Shadow IT, since a junior profile can do the development in no time. 

Marjory is a low-code solution that makes it easy to create complex out-of-the-box connections to automate all desired workflows. This low-code approach reduces your data integration costs by 70% and accelerates your production start-up. 

Marjory gives you access to many SaaS tools thanks to its catalog of pre-integrated applications and its multitude of available connectors. Unlike other iPaaS platforms, we even allow you to orchestrate the management of your payments! Our monitoring tools also allow you to monitor your activity and be RGPD compliant. Marjory is a robust platform designed to follow your needs, allowing you to scale easily. Want to know more? Contact us now!


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