Shadow IT: unleashing creativity or creating chaos?

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MaloryDavies.jpgIn most of the organisations that I have worked in, the IT department has maintained an iron grip on the IT systems used in the business. There are good reasons of course, legality, security, the ability to provide support, and integration of systems across the organisation.

But, the world is changing with the development of “Shadow IT”, according to a study by BT: “Art of connecting: creativity and the modern CIO”.

Shadow IT is where departments such as marketing buy their own IT systems. And nowhere is this practice growing more rapidly that transport and logistics. The BT survey found that 76 per cent of CIOs in the section seeing it within their organisations.

Shadow IT now accounts for 23 per cent of transport and logistics’ IT spend, compared with an international average of 25 per cent.

Sounds like a recipe for boardroom warfare – in fact, the study notes that there are fears among CIOs about loss of control and sizeable reductions in their overall budgets.

Nevertheless, BT reckons the development gives CIOs “a unique opportunity to evolve their role”.

“CIOs are perfectly placed to nurture creative uses of technology throughout their organisations while keeping a strategic view. Indeed, our research shows that the board expects nothing less,” says Luis Alvarez, CEO of BT Global Services.

The BT study identifies the use of mobility, cloud and unified communications as critical areas for CIOs to meet board expectations.

While it makes a strong case for the benefits of Shadow IT, the study raises all sorts of questions: who has ultimate responsibility for the IT system, could Shadow IT turn the business into a series of silos, and could costs go spiralling out of control? Is it unleashing creativity or creating chaos?

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