IT should empower users, not control them

Some business leaders, without fully comprehending what Shadow IT is or how it is created, quickly paint it as the enemy of the business

Organisations in Australia and New Zealand have been investigating the role traditional technology providers are offering and how it affects business objectives. Decision makers are constantly questioning the responsibilities of CIOs and the Central IT team when it comes to shutting down Shadow IT solutions on work networks.

Some business leaders, without fully comprehending what Shadow IT is or how it is created, quickly paint it as the enemy of the business. CEOs think that in order to prevent the risk created by Shadow IT, all employees just need to simply fall in line with the overarching solution IT provides.

However, by taking an in-depth look at what Shadow IT is and how it is installed, businesses can get a better understanding of how it is created, and that it is not “rogue” users, who are at fault. Shadow IT does not originate from professionals with the wrong intent or from those unwilling to even try the tools sanctioned by their IT team. Shadow IT is formed when the IT team does not provide the best tools for their employees.

The idea of Shadow IT undercutting the actual IT team undersells the vision of the modern CIO, and the opportunities to embrace and harness IT’s role in driving organisational agility, digital disruption, and the ongoing transformation of an organisation. It also implies that the IT team should be mostly focused on control and governance. These matters are certainly important but today’s CIO’s make it harder for themselves and their colleagues by not empowering employees and rolling out tools that users don’t love or use.

Empower the People

CIOs need to empower users with apps and other tools that they actually enjoy and want to use, apps that actually work as designed. IT teams should provide the best-in-breed, most user-friendly technology to employees for every situation. Clearly, there is a need for standardisation as an organisation cannot have several tools to accomplish the same task or switch tools on a regular basis. The modern CIO understands this predicament and sees the benefit of introducing technology that users enjoy and use as these benefits bring much more to an organisation.

Tool Time

Find the best-of-breed tools. The beautiful thing is that these best-of-breed providers have created API-driven cloud ecosystems, so using them together is actually more frictionless than an end-to-end system from a traditional technology provider. These best-of-breed providers listen to user feedback and have a singular laser focus on their technology solutions being extremely efficient, productive, and effective in meeting the desires and objectives of their users.

Cloud ecosystems themselves reflect an opportunity to extend capabilities of best-in-breed apps, enhancing workflows and providing a platform for innovation and digital transformation that gives businesses speed and agility.

Additionally, traditional providers often suggest that the only secure environment is their own. But tools from independent companies often build security into the platform from day one. This will ensure companies won’t be creating their own insecure Shadow IT networks with consumer solutions.

CIO 2.0

If the modern CIO is to play a part in driving business change, supporting the digital transformation and agility of their organisation, they should provide a safe, secure environment, educate users, and provide them with the best tools. The staff of many businesses will find the best tools themselves if IT doesn’t provide them. A CIO can put their head in the sand and ignore it, or they can embrace it. The modern CIO, and their team, can be the hero for employees. They can be progressive, operate out of the box instead of sticking to traditional tech providers, investigate what’s occurring in the open and uninhibited world of technology, and give users what they want instead of tightly controlling what apps can be used and when.

CIOs must embrace the opportunity to create a happy work environment, which will trickle down through employees to the customers. Tools that are quick, easy, and safe to use can go a long way in keeping businesses on the path of innovation. As CIOs and leaders of technology, it is important to empower other employees around the office, not control them by enforcing rules that will be inevitably broken.

Michael Chetner is ANZ manager at Zoom Video Communications.

 

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