Get over being afraid of our shadow

Get over being afraid of our shadow

This week, I shared an article (Cloud-Based DevOps) and it generated a healthy debate about shadow IT. The article explains the rationale behind one manager taking on the expense and the risk of providing IT for his business unit. The resulting debate highlights what I see as the changing role of in-house IT.

Ask any IT leader what their top concerns are. I guarantee staffing and budgets are right up there. We all have too much to do, and too little to do it with. IT teams have been in this mode for some years now.

See, the traditional IT function was one based on command-and-control. It had to be. IT systems were complex, they were high maintenance, and they were new. I do not mean “new” like “new iPhone”. I mean new like how the automobile was new when it was introduced as a horse-and-carriage and replacement. IT was involved because we had to be. We knew how to make it work and, if it was not implemented correctly, we felt the failure in terms of increased support tickets and higher maintenance costs.

Management strategies are very much based in this old school model. The right way to do things, many will advocate, is for the business to come to IT. IT then designs, develops, and deploys the solution. Bonus points if there is a budgeting charge-back system in place.

Ask any IT leader what top trends are concerning them. Several are likely to be mentioned. Consider IT consumerization, shadow IT, bring-your-own-device, cloud computing, and so on. Each of these is a risk because it involves the end-users making choices for themselves, without the need for IT to be involved at all.

In the Cloud-Based DevOps article, the author is spending tens of thousands of dollars per month. He and his team are provisioning and managing much of the IT they need.

Let’s put these side-by-side. IT has more work than the team can accomplish. The business is saying IT is too bogged down to handle the request. IT is saying that they lack the budget. The business is saying that they can afford it.

Why not simply enable the business to take on non-core IT? As counter-intuitive it may seem, embracing the do-it-yourself trends is vital to modern IT management.

Today’s IT systems are “new” like the “new iPhone”. And today’s IT end-users often know as much, if not more, about their IT needs and their IT systems than the IT team. With an entire generation having grown up with the technology, today’s employees are not looking for approval. They are looking for guidance.

Embracing shadow IT is a tactic that can allow for better service. . As that frees up time, the IT department can focus ever more attention on the core business systems. Let’s make it easier, not harder, for non-IT departments to provision IT. Let’s also extend IT governance, through consultative education, to the business unit making the purchasing decisions. Embrace and extend.

IT consumerization can be securable and supportable. The IT department, however, will need to adjust to a post command-and-control world. We can choose to fight the end-users. Of course, suchmoves are exactly what drives people like the article’s author to without notifying IT. We can choose to make the business a smarter consumer. This latter choice is the one, in my opinion, that enables smarter uses of IT and begins to truly shift the IT department to a service organization.

The choice is ours. I say, let’s get over our fear of shadow IT.

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