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Shadow Apps: Turning SaaS Risk into a CIO Strategy

Ignoring them puts the company at greater risk. Banning them puts the CIO at odds with his or her staff. That is why Linda Tucci, executive editor for TechTarget, believes that adoption of the SaaS apps associated with Shadow IT is the best approach to mitigating IT risk. As Tucci states:  

[One who] clamps down on shadow apps, on the other hand, risks being labeled a “CI-no,” a rubric no CIO can afford to court, even for the sake of information security. From Salesforce and LinkedIn to Dropbox and Gmail to point solutions for every corporate function, unsanctioned SaaS services commissioned by the business are helping employees be more efficient, productive and innovative.

Strategy for SaaS Integration

Drawing on the wisdom of several experts, Tucci paints a picture of SaaS success, citing that the key to initiating a policy of SaaS usage begins with transparency and is followed up by a sound governance strategy. For instance, one might conduct an inventory of available cloud apps, then make deliberate decisions about which to adopt and which to restrict. The acceptance of certain SaaS applications could eliminate software redundancies which would, in turn, translate to cost savings for the company. One drawback is that the very nature of SaaS (cloud apps in particular) is rapidly changing, making inventory and monitoring processes appear intractable.

The Case of Aquent

Tucci draws on the experience of Larry Bolick, the forward-thinking CIO whose marketing and staffing company Aquent garnered great success by moving its phone system to the cloud.  However, this innovative company that “embraced the shadows” was not fully aware of its own SaaS use. Bolick says he was caught off-guard by a rash unmonitored Dropbox use, which subsequently prompted the roll out of an enterprise account for that service.

Force-Multiplier Strategy

The solution that Bolick found might be called “Force Multiplier Strategy.” According to this approach, effectively integrated SaaS will require IT to align with HR and legal departments to ensure monitoring and compliance are up to speed with the changing nature of Shadow IT.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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