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Shadow IT: The Five Biggest Mistakes CIOs Make

Shadow IT is basically here to stay, so what CIOs need to do now is develop strategies for guiding its use so that it produces more benefits than risks. To that end, Brian Taylor interviews Karen Adame, CIO of KeyedIn Solutions, for TechRepublic about five mistakes CIOs make with shadow IT:

  1. Allowing shadow IT systems to impede workflow
  2. Failing to ensure proper training to secure information and prevent data loss
  3. Not providing the right tools to enable efficient data management
  4. Failing to control spreadsheet versions and ensure analytical consistency
  5. Not getting the full return on IT investments

Friends in Dark Places

The first item has to do with when everybody wants to use their own thing to get a job done. When you have to compile work from seven different locations to get a finished product, it is going to be a slow-going and inefficient process. Keep shadow IT for the very little elements of a project, and use a common environment like SharePoint for the important stuff. Regardless of what you use shadow IT for though, security will always be an issue, which is why employees need to understand the risks of data loss. Explain exactly why it is so vital that this random spreadsheet has a password associated with it.

Generally speaking, the major reason why people turn to shadow IT is because it is more convenient than going through the officially selected channels. If the tools you use do not enable good data management, then it is no reason everyone is looking to shady street dealers for their data management. At least give your employees a good reason not to turn to shadow IT.

About the fourth item, Adame says:

That probably should be number one! Having spreadsheets out there that people are using, that are not the same spreadsheets other people are using for their analytics is a problem. Say somebody emails a spreadsheet to me, and I make some changes on it, and then person A now sends their version to person C, and you end up asking after all these versions, what is the truth? You really fall into a lot of problems with that, and it comes back to what we talked about the data efficiency and training for that. You now have two different versions of the truth, and there is nothing worse in any company when you have two different versions of the truth.

Look at the tools you are using right now, and decide where improvements can be made. When you maximize what you already have, you get the full return on your investments. When you leave too many cracks in the existing processes, something from the shadows is bound to creep up and offer its assistance.

You can read the original interview here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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