Shadow IT – a call to arms for Unified Communications?
IT Seal of Approval and Software Security
Some of us have worked long enough to remember the heady days when the IT department had full control of the infrastructure. No hardware or software could be brought into the business without the IT seal of approval. Business users had neither the knowledge nor the resources to acquire or maintain technology, but soon things began to change.
Unapproved software would “appear” on machines because someone had discovered a new application or device that enhanced their productivity. When the first wireless network points appeared, business units immediately saw the benefits of staff mobility. Yet IT was frequently slow to react because of the security challenges presented by wireless access.
Now let’s consider an alarming statistic; research group Gartner predicts that in less than three years, 35% of enterprise expenditures will happen outside of the corporate IT budget. Employees will regularly subscribe to collaboration, analytics and other cloud services they want. While others will simply build their own cloud-based tools and platforms.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Rather than standing in the way, smart CIOs are beginning to embrace shadow IT. Let’s look closely at one particular area of shadow IT area that gets a lot of IT staff hot under the collar – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
At first glance, BYOD is an innovative solution to common business communications issues, helping raise productivity and efficiency. But when the devices are unauthorised, shadow IT can cause real problems.
A recent global study found that CIOs are spending around a quarter of their annual budget dealing with shadow IT. 76% of which reported unauthorised network access within their businesses. Next there is the issue of security, with nearly 75% of the CIOs surveyed admitting they were more concerned with security because of the rise of shadow IT.
The Challenges of Shadow IT
It becomes extremely difficult for IT to oversee every application that is being used with some teams implementing their own IM or DropBox solutions and staff bypassing company firewalls with unauthorised devices. This compromises compliance and means more time and effort is spent focusing on IT security. Network speeds are also being affected with unauthorised and unplanned traffic from the use of personal devices and applications.
A complete ban on shadow IT might seem like the obvious response, but it may not be the right solution. By blocking these unauthorised devices and applications, companies actually risk impacting productivity rates and user experience. Customer service responsiveness will also be poor because of the perceived high quality enabled through using these devices and services. Throwing a blanket ban over BYOD could destroy trust and creativity with employees. Theyare simply using the best devices and apps to do their job in the most effective way. IT and department heads need to focus on the results and employee needs, rather than the rules, and use the tools offered by Unified Communications (UC) offer to embrace this challenge.
UC shines a light on the shadows
Unified Communications (UC) seems to hold all the trump cards. CIOs certainly seem to think so, with 72% of respondents in a recent global research study citing it as the technology to deliver results while promoting end-user creativity, engagement and responsiveness. UC prioritises the end-user experience, providing employees with an enterprise-grade equivalent to replace a disconnected and less than secure group of applications. A single, easy-to-use and fully integrated user interface offers consistent user experience, security and quality of service across multiple devices, ensuring visibility and control for the IT department.
Application functionality can be supported across all channels – voice, IM, social media, video – and across any device from any location. Designed to offer maximum flexibility, UC provides flexible deployment models, agility and scalability, allowing IT to manage any required systems changes with ease. Ultimately, this helps reduce any impact on day-to-day operations and avoid ad-hoc and unforeseen costs.
UC as a technology puts IT firmly back in the driving seat with enhanced network visibility. This turns “hidden” shadow IT issues into catalysts for efficiency and success, and mitigating the threat to security and costs.
For further information about Unified Communications, contact us on 0161 788 0000.
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