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Shadow IT. Is Not A Technical Problem

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Social and communication skills are crucial to engage stakeholders, convey technical information, and motivate them to comply with corporate policies. Technical leadership keeps failing to tame “shadow IT.” We firmly believe that the problem’s solution is erroneously conceived.

Shadow IT. includes the procurement and use of IT. assets by a business unit or individual (e.g., user-developed applications) without the IT. organization’s knowledge or control. While the business can timely respond to immediate needs, this rogue use of IT. introduces unknown variables. This lack of visibility haunts technical leadership because of its inherent risks (lack of security updates, poor change management, and ill-documented applications) in an increasingly complex matrix of technologies enabled by pervasive low-cost cloud computing.

UNCHECKED ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY IN AN EVER-INCREASING RISK SCENARIO

According to Snow Software’s “2021 IT. Priorities Report” a survey involving 1,000 leaders in IT. and 3,000 workers located in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany, differing opinions among IT. leaders and business teams about technology procurement will lead to an increase in risks caused by shadow IT.

On the one hand, the report found out that technical leaders may overestimate how easy it is for business units to procure applications, cloud resources, and software. On the other hand, 16% of workers do not believe unmanaged or unaccounted IT. assets may cause any business issues. This discrepancy could lead to an increase in shadow IT., a resulting lack of comprehensive governance, and increased risks.

Current strategies that treat these issues as a technical problem that requires just a technical solution are not working. Also, using technical jargon to guide business teams is a bad communication strategy. Worse, blaming business teams for not complying with corporate IT. policies without listening to their needs creates mistrust and drives them apart, widening the gap between what IT. teams require and what the business units do to fulfill their IT. needs.

Internal IT. organizations can change the game by improving their approach to tackling those companywide issues. In most cases, applying solution design techniques will help better map stakeholders, identify their needs, and design sustainable business-oriented solutions, rather than imposing technical solutions with a low appeal to business units.

This revised approach also requires social and communications skills and active listening to design stakeholder-centric technical solutions. These skills are crucial to engage stakeholders, convey technical information, and motivate them to comply with corporate policies.

SOLUTION DESIGN CAN BE A GAME CHANGER

Typical solution design frameworks start by identifying the problem’s root cause. The ultimate goal is to extract the fundamental reason behind the issue presented and solve it instead of just addressing the symptoms. Starting with questioning why the problem is happening, the IT. team should keep asking additional why-questions until it identifies the root cause. Only then, start, working on options for mitigating any pain points by addressing their root-cause head-on.

Also, the technical team should work on mapping and engaging the business stakeholders. Who are they? In which organization do they belong? What is critical to them? How do they measure success? This phase is all about empathy, walking in one’s shoes, and showing that the IT. organization cares about the business team’s success. IT. teams can empathize with business teams by intentionally listening to them.

Throughout this journey, technical teams must avoid using jargon rather than using business language to communicate technical solutions crafted to solve business problems. Success depends just as much on people as it does on technology. This point is brought home by the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, which identifies skills that employees and leadership should have to benefit their organizations maximally. Coordinating, cooperating, and communicating with others are some of those critical skills.

Those abilities enable ongoing stakeholder engagement, which means mapping, connecting with, and listening to everyone impacted regularly. Such skills are crucial to designing and implementing sustainable solutions.

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