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Shadow Tech: The IT Professional’s Worst Nightmare

shadow_techNothing can make an IT manager cringe more than the mention of the phrase “Shadow Tech.” In an age when new software and hardware are released every day, it can be quite difficult for IT departments to maintain control of the business networks they have been charged with overseeing. Employees, in most cases, don’t understand why IT gets so upset when they use something outside of the umbrella of IT. After all, they are only trying to get their job done as quickly as possible and achieve the best results they can. If a new piece of software can do that, why not use it, even if IT doesn’t know about?

What Is Shadow Tech?

To put it simply, Shadow Tech is technology that is used by employees which is not officially endorsed by the IT department of a company. This technology could be an app on a smartphone, a specific piece of software installed without the knowledge of the IT department, or even a piece of hardware not owned by the company. Whatever it is, it’s simply technology used to do business that isn’t tightly controlled by IT. Using this technology can help you get things done, but it can bring certain risks to companies.

Dangers of Shadow Tech

There is good reason for IT departments to show concern when employees choose to use software and hardware that is not certified by IT.

  1. Security Issues

With so much software making use of the Cloud, it can be hard to determine where the data is really going if you are not familiar with a piece of software. In addition, you must rely on the unknown app maker’s security to ensure your data is safe. If a breach does occur, your company could be facing liability issues with your customers when it didn’t even happen on your own servers.

  1. Compatibility Issues

If one employee is using something completely different from the rest of the staff, other workers will have difficulty accessing the documents created using unapproved technology. If that employee leaves, you might not even know what was used or be able to access it at all.

  1. Backup Concerns

If employees are using hardware not connected to your network, you have no way of controlling what happens to that data. If the employee leaves it on the device and it crashes, valuable customer data could be lost forever simply because it was never stored safely and properly.

Limit Shadow Tech

In today’s environment, it is not possible to completely eliminate Shadow Tech. However, there are methods you can employ in your company to help limit the use of Shadow Tech.

  1. Lock Down Your Network and Employee Computers

Do not just allow your employees to install anything they want on their systems. Control as tightly as you can what is allowed and what is not allowed to be installed on company computers.

  1. Create a Well-Defined IT Policy

Communicate what you expect from your employees in regards to your business’ systems. Be thorough and cover every aspect of the workflow process and what tools the employees are to use.

  1. Be Open and Approachable

Don’t close off IT to employees. Make them feel comfortable with offering suggestions and recommending products they wish to use to get the job done. You might find that the tool they want is actually better than the one you currently have, and it’s a great way to foster ownership of the business with the employees.

Shadow Tech is a source of great stress for IT departments around the country. However, with a few simple steps, you can easily reduce that stress and make Shadow Tech work for your company. Shadow Tech is here to stay, so it is important that your IT manager takes control of your company’s technology to limit the dangers of it while utilizing it to your advantage and to the advantage of your company.

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