Rogue IT (or Shadow IT) has been a bogeyman in IT circles for years, but new research from the nonprofit Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) suggests that business units increasingly find it important to keep IT in the loop, even as their power to purchase their own IT solutions is growing.
"The complete side-stepping of IT has gone down," says Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA. "It certainly appears that businesses have learned their lessons, based either on missteps they have made themselves or on information gathered from others."
CompTIA's report, Building Digital Organizations, found that business units handle their own procurement for cloud applications between 18 percent and 36 percent of the time, depending on the application. The IT function still controls at least half of the technology budget in many cases, and within business units that hold their own technology funds, CompTIA says the most common approach is to engage internal IT teams for projects.
IT as business partner
Far from viewing IT has a hindrance, Robinson says the lines of business are eager to partner with the IT function for its expertise in integration and security. He suggests that many organizations that opted for rogue IT in the past several years did so in an effort to operate faster -- they saw the IT function as a speed bottleneck. But while they may have gotten applications or services up and running rapidly, they merely delayed the headaches around integration and security. Even when business units procure technology from an outside provider, they frequently rely on the IT function for guidance.
"The clear sentiment is that IT is in the best position to explore potential solutions and bring them to the table," Robinson says. "This is the type of forward-looking activity that businesses are demanding from their technical team."
"Ultimately [rogue IT] slows things down," Robinson adds. "You might be able to get an individual application launched more quickly in the short term, but the ultimate solution may take much longer."
Speed and agility vs. integration and security
Speed is still an important factor, Robinson notes. Business units want the IT function to provide the speed and agility they can get by procuring services outside IT, but they also want the IT function to weigh in on integration and security concerns.
"For as much technical savvy as business units may have, they are still not as well-versed in these two areas as the IT department," he adds.
CompTIA found that business units would like to bring their own ideas about technology to the IT team, but they also want the IT team to drive the overall technology vision.