Balancing security risks and innovation potential of shadow IT teams

Shadow IT teams, also known as rogue IT teams, have grown in popularity in recent years due to the rise of cloud-based apps and remote work. However, this has led to operational tension and security risks within many businesses.

58% of SMBs have experienced high-impact shadow IT efforts outside the purview of their official IT department, according to Capterra.

shadow IT teams

Half of SMBs say shadow IT teams are most commonly formed because there’s a lack of understanding among employees about the process for acquiring new technology.

This is closely followed by 41% of SMBs that attribute it to a perception that the IT department is too slow or cumbersome, and by another 37% who say an incubator team was created with a senior manager’s approval but without the IT team’s awareness.

Unfortunately, shadow IT initiatives lead to risks and consequences for businesses. 89% of SMBs report negative financial consequences from past shadow IT efforts at their company, such as paying fines and replacing the created software.

Additionally, 76% of SMBs say the shadow IT effort poses a moderate to severe cybersecurity threat to their organization.

Despite potential short-term negative impacts, SMBs have reported benefits in the long run as a result of shadow IT teams. In fact, 80% say that shadow IT efforts have ultimately contributed to a positive financial impact in the long run.

Businesses have also attributed these initiatives to higher productivity. 51% of SMBs say the resulting tool developed has ultimately saved employees time, and another 42% say the tool has reduced the workload for IT departments.

“As more tech-savvy employees find new ways to make work better, SMBs will need to not only have policies and procedures in place to guide them, but also foster a collaborative culture,” says Olivia Montgomery, associate principal analyst at Capterra.

“Businesses should embrace the innovative spirit deriving from shadow IT efforts while also taking a proactive approach in minimizing risks,” Montgomery added.

To strike this balance, SMBs should consider developing a structured plan for integrating shadow IT efforts safely into their business while educating workers on the risks involved in these initiatives.

The most popular approach for integrating these efforts, cited by 37% of SMBs, is to create an IT project that incorporates resources from both the official IT and shadow IT teams. This method can strengthen the relationship between both teams, educate the shadow IT team on official IT processes, and it’s often the quickest and most effective way to incorporate the work.

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