Shadow IT

The Upside of Shadow IT

Tech-savvy employees have long bypassed IT to get their hands on hot technologies. Rather than standing in the way, smart CIOs are now embracing and even encouraging shadow IT. Here's why.

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Redefine IT's role as educator and policymaker

"Consumerization of IT is an inevitable reality," says Kraft's Dajani. One of IT's expanding roles in this new world is to develop and implement security and other policies that help rather than hinder employees, regardless of the device they use to do their work.

Kraft, for example, is virtualizing its applications environment so mobile workers in particular can use the device of their choice. "But users have to keep their versions of software up to date, and we keep track of that," Dajani says. "If people are running software on Androids and it's not up to date after 30 days, we lock them out."

"We need to empower employees, but we also need to teach them," he adds.

Todd Coombes, CIO at insurer CNO in Indianapolis, works with his peers in the lines of business to develop policies that will work for both IT and users who want to innovate using Web-based apps and consumer technology.

"If I were to take a hard line and say 'no shadow IT,' I'm not going to be adding any value for my business partners, and it will create resentments and wreck relationships," Coombes says. Moreover, many of the most innovative ideas for high-value productivity applications come from workers in the field, he adds. (Story continues on next page)

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