Businesses allow 'shadow IT culture'

Businesses increasingly accept the existence of a "shadow" IT culture, in which end users install uncontrolled "rogue" technology to make good the shortcomings of overstretched IT departments, according to a survey.

Rogue IT includes users installing software, or tampering with existing software or macros, without the IT department's consent, according to the survey, by integration specialist Blue Prism. Budget and resource constraints often lead to elements of rogue behaviour, reported by 67 percent of respondents to the survey. Twenty-four percent believed that rogue IT isn’t used in their organisations and 10 percent admitted they didn’t know.

It seems that end-users are increasingly aware nowadays that their IT department cannot always deliver a practical solution for their needs, which can lead to the creation of a “shadow IT culture” within an organisation, whereby users actively install their own applications or find their own workaround solutions in order to do their day-to-day job.

This is often because IT departments have to manage business-critical projects, sometimes at the expense of helping business users with tactical change requests. Indeed, over 52 percent reported that working on strategic projects was the main focus for their department with 40 percent saying that delivering day to day business change requests was their priority.

Other areas of focus for the IT department included: fire fighting, application and data centre consolidation, data processing, user communications, and functionality.

Under-resourced IT is blamed heavily, with more than 71 percent of respondents to the Blue Prism survey citing IT department resource constraints as the reason why they are not able to satisfy all requests from the business, followed by 67 percent of respondents who believed that IT department budget constraints were the key factor. Meanwhile, 24 percent of respondents cited an unreasonable number of requests from users as a prime reason for failing to satisfy change requests.

Of those surveyed however, 52 percent believed that they are able to satisfy over 75 percent of change requests and only 10 percent of respondents felt that they were able to manage fewer than 25 percent of requests.

Finally, the traditional perception of IT departments frowning upon rogue behaviour by users is also challenged by the Blue Prism survey. It concludes that many IT departments fully understand why pockets of rogue behaviour exist, and reveals these departments were equally pragmatic when asked for the best way of dealing with it.

Three quarters (75 percent) suggested strategic controls, such as a strong governance model where collaboration between IT and the business is encouraged, need to be put in place to help the technology department cope with the rogue IT behaviour. Interestingly, only 10 percent favoured introducing measures to eradicate it.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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