Getting started with shadow IT

the rise of shadow ITA recent survey showed that less than 50% of technology related work is being done through corporate IT departments, with the rest being done as shadow IT.

A shocking statistic? Not really, given how hard it feels to get things done through your in-house IT team. So who wouldn’t take that offer of help from your friendly digital agency who can knock you up a system, hosted in the cloud, no questions asked.

I recently did a talk to a group of CIOs where we talked about the rise of shadow IT. Of course, they were frustrated that it’s not an even playing field. They’re held to account on resilience, scalability, security and cost effectiveness, as well as functionality. And it’s in those areas where the shadow IT systems often come up short.

But to stop there is to miss the point. Corporate IT departments can be hard work to deal with, and there is a time and place for a nimble development to try out a new idea with customers, or to support a specific campaign. Over-engineer the solution, and the opportunity is lost.

IT functions need to create their own shadow IT capability to fill that need. But it can’t be the same old offering, squeezed into an ill-fitting new suit. If it’s going to be the first port of call for your business colleagues, it needs to be more nimble, and more effective than their alternative. And that means it needs to be allowed to break all your rules, when and where it’s the right thing to do.

So how to get started with your own shadow IT function? Try these steps:

  • Build a coalition for action. Your CMO is a good place to start
  • Identify the specific, small opportunity you can experiment with, and accept that an experiment can fail
  • Find a partner and/or build a cross functional team with the right new skills
  • Give the team freedom and responsibility
  • Iterate quickly, ideally two week cycles
  • Show stakeholders as soon as you can
Getting started with shadow IT

Rob works with technology start ups and leading retailers on the impact and opportunities of digital technologies

Tagged on: