Empowering the Business to Come Out of the Shadow IT

First we called it shadow IT. Then it was rogue IT. Now, we refer to it euphemistically as business-managed IT (BMIT). No matter what you call it, the longstanding problem of business groups buying, building and deploying IT solutions without company authorization presents the same challenges to IT executives everywhere.

In some cases, it could mean that business-sensitive information is being used and shared without proper security controls, sometimes in external environments. It often leads to fragmented architecture, a lack of integration and inconsistent and ineffective management of vendor contracts. It also increases overall costs, complexity and may create a “double standard” between IT and business-implemented solutions. And it is a practice that is on the rise across a wide range of industries, as cloud technology has evolved.

No longer limited to resorting to stealth servers under someone’s desk, the business now has easy access to a growing number of Internet-based providers offering nearly unlimited IT capabilities in the public cloud. But we in IT also have more options than ever to turn this headache into a business-empowering opportunity. It’s not like business leaders’ reasons for using BMIT aren’t good ones. They are under increased pressure to drive top line revenue ASAP. They want new capabilities, and more agile IT tools. At the end of the day, business leaders’ choice to use BMIT is about faster time to market and better control.

The good news is that enterprise IT organizations have also transformed with cloud technology, and new, in-house IT models can now compete with outside cloud providers to give the business the capabilities it wants, at competitive cost and in shorter cycle times.

What we in IT need to do is be proactive in showing the business that we can not only meet their needs in a more agile way, but also do it better than outside vendors. Our IT solutions are scalable, secure and efficient. We bring a great understanding of business processes, and we know how to integrate the multiple technologies needed to enable many capabilities. We understand the data architecture and we have expertise in IT vendor management.

What’s more, since we have a highly optimized private cloud infrastructure and don’t have to make a profit, in many cases, we can provide such capabilities cheaper than outside vendors. And where using outside resources makes sense, we can work with the business to leverage those options as well, acting as a “broker–agent” to negotiate the smartest and most cost effective deal.

At EMC, we are now building applications that are cloud-enabled and that can be hosted on an internal or external cloud. We’ve also developed the ability to migrate seamlessly between clouds to create a hybrid cloud approach.

And to give the business more control and flexibility in using these expanded capabilities, we are implementing a user-focused, IT-as-a-Service model which allows business users to “buy” what they need — like Business-Intelligence-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

It’s all about proactively engaging and empowering the business by creating a framework that allows it to experiment in a way that helps drive innovation and accelerates time to market and time to value together.

BMIT is here and it’s not going away. So don’t kid yourself by thinking that you don’t have such a challenge in your organization. Believe me, you do.

Given this reality, it’s up to us as IT professionals to seize this opportunity to demonstrate how we can add differentiated value by turning BMIT into business-empowered IT.

About the Author: Tony Pagliarulo