Monday, September 16, 2013

Will Shadow IT fill the Business-IT Gap or widen it?

Shadow IT is growing and growing. In this post I explain what Shadow IT is and how it is related to the Business-IT Gap. 

What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT is Information Technology Applications, Systems and Infrastructure, which are developed and/or used without decisions and without approval of the Enterprise Management Team and the CIO
Sometimes the Enterprise Management don't even know that these "Shadows" are executed as part of the Enterprise Information Technology.

Shadow IT Trends and Directions
Shadow IT is almost as old as Information Technology. When I worked on Y2K Bug, IT assets mapping was a necessary step. 

We discovered Shadow IT applications such as Microsoft Excel applications, Reports using orphan tools (The company which built the tool was out of Business), Microsoft Access Applications and Data (The End User who developed them was no longer an employee of that Enterprise) etc. 

If you read Alex Salazar's article: A little Little Rebellion is a good thing: The Rise of Shadow IT, you will probably discover a different Shadow IT in 2013.
In addition to Shadow IT applications similar to those we discovered 15 years ago, you may discover another type of Shadow IT: Open Source tools and Applications build by these tools, e.g. MYSQL Database.  

Read other articles, e.g.  Julia King's article: The upside of Shadow IT and you will discover a third type of Shadow IT: SaaS and other Cloud Computing  services. 

It should be noted that Open Source is Shadow IT, if and only if, Developers or other IT Savvy non-IT employees downloaded the software and used it without any Governance or Control by the CIO and/or the Upper Management.

The same conclusion is applicable to SaaS and other Cloud Computing Software and Hardware.

The Bottom Line: Shadow IT will continue to grow due to new types of Shadow IT Applications, Infrastructure and Hardware

Are all Shadow IT components created equal?
There is a huge difference between Open Source Shadow IT and SaaS Shadow IT.

Both are stimulated by low costs. You may bypass organizational procedures in case of low or no costs. Such procedures includes formal approval, allocating and planning budget and payments. 

In the end of the day, the enterprise will find that there are no free lunches: you may need to pay for supporting your Open Source and surely when your SaaS implementation will be in Production stage, you will have to pay to the vendor a lot more than in the Pilot (In many cases you will pay less than others will be pay for On Premise products). However, that will be long time after the Shadow IT application was built and used.  

The main difference between Open Source Shadow and SaaS Shadow is the decision maker

The decision maker in Open Source Shadow is usually a junior IT employee who downloaded and used the software. In other cases it may be a junior IT Savvy Business User.

As far as SaaS Shadow is concerned, the decision maker is usually a Manager In a Business department.
The SaaS Shadow is more related to the Business-It Gap than the Open Source Shadow IT

The Business-IT Gap
This blog title: Filling the Gaps, implies that Business-IT Gap is a main topic. The notion is that decent SOA implementation should narrow that gap. 

I discussed in previous posts other aspects of Business and IT Gap and Business and IT Alignment.
For example, Will Business and IT Aligned? , STKI Summit 2011 - SOA Perspective: Business Services or only Integration?  Mind the Gap not the Name  and BPM Market Growing Rapidly but still Maturing and Changing.

The roots of the gap is a difference between Business viewpoint of IT and how IT perceives its interactions with the Business.

Business point of view is that IT Architectures, procedures and Systems are a barrier to an efficient and Agile Business. However, it is essential for operating the Business. In summary; You can't with IT and you can't without it.

IT managers and workers tend to exaggerate their Business contribution: If anything is wrong it is the Business Departments procedures and lack of understanding of Technologies.   

Shadow IT and The Business-IT Gap
The down side of Shadow IT is obvious. However, according to Julia King's article, published by ComputerWorld, possible benefits should not ignored. 

Another question discussed in King's article is: What should the CIO do about Shadow IT?
The opinions of some of the CIO's which were interviewed, could be described as "If you can't beat them - Join them" attitude. 

In this post I am asking a key question: Why enterprise's employees implement Shadow IT instead of using the IT Department Methods, Procedures and Services?

The context of this question is more SaaS Shadow oriented than Open Source Shadow oriented.

If CIO's would like to narrow the Gap, they should ask the key question cited above.

In most cases they will find that Business users used Shadow IT because they were not satisfied with the IT Department's services.

Sometimes the Gap resulted in IT professionals, who does not address fully the Business Department requirements.

Sometimes the Gap resulted in IT Systems which are far from addressing basic current requirements.

Sometimes it is a difference in Priorities: The Business Department people felt that the IT schedule does not reflect correctly the high-priority they assigned to tasks.

In many cases it is due to non-flexible and not Agile IT Procedures.

Sometimes the IT implementation of Business Processes is a Bottleneck: The Business department would like to improve Business Processes, but due to lack of Visibility and lack of proper implementation of BPM it takes a long time to change the Business processes.

You can't always blame the IT Department
Sometimes it has nothing to do with IT Department issues; A Business user or a Business Department Manager, assigned a lot higher priority to a task than the priority Top Business Management assigned to the same task. The IT Department may adjust its priorities according to guidelines provided by the Top Business Management team.

Never the less, even in this case the CIO (with or without Top Business managers) should discuss the issue with the Business Department in order to narrow the Gap.


Avi Rosenthal said...

ZapThink Architect Group

Will Shadow IT fill the Business-IT Gap or widen it?

It depends on how one selects services to implement "shadow IT". If in the right way. IMHO they will fill the gap. See our humble suggestions on how to do it in the area of business process support: text - , slides - , title: "Preparing for the era of cloud computing: Towards a framework for selecting business process support services"
By Ilia Bider

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