Let them build tech

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So many CIO blogs out there are telling you to worry about shadow IT. Lock it down, control it, close all the loops and take down any new tech you find. Prevent, control and lockdown. After all, who else is getting 3 am calls from annoyed CEOs when technology falls down?

I have a different opinion.

Let people build and use what they want.

Okay, maybe not whatever they want. But we have to accept that the old ways just won’t cut it anymore. IT professionals are no longer the only people in organisations with a knowledge of cutting-edge technology and innovation. As emerging tech has changed our environment, it’s also changed our internal clients, who have evolved.

The plus side is that they’re more likely to embrace change. But their expectations are higher than ever. They know that agile techniques and,“as-a -service” offerings are creating opportunities for solutions that don’t rely on legacy infrastructure, so can be delivered easily and even without IT involvement.

I know that we can’t get away from the concerns of keeping integrity of architecture, ensuring the support infrastructure can withstand additional load, and tackling cyber-risk, amongst others. So how do find a way to create the flexibility that our evolving world demands while safeguarding our IT estate?

We’ve come up with a few simple steps to help CIOs and their clients figure this out:

  • First of all, stop calling it “shadow IT” – that name is driving bad behaviours across the organisation. Call it “light-touch” or “client-delivered” or any other name that doesn’t immediately sound like a crime.
  • Be clear about the limits of what your IT department can do – can you quickly pilot a new technology? Do your teams have expertise in emerging tech? Consider creating a SWOT analysis of corporate IT and the business to see where the limitations lie.
  • Create a clear process that allows your clients to understand when they can independently deliver new IT. Consider questions including:
  • Is IT help needed to deliver the solution or can internal clients truly deliver this with their own skills and resources?
  • Does this new solution have implications on support infrastructure and functions?
  • Are there cyber security concerns?
  • Communicate with your clients, give them the parameters that they can use in order to self-deliver IT. Make sure they understand what it would mean to deal with support and cyber implications. Have a go at creating an empathy map (shameless plug:
  • Become an advisor to your clients as they self-deliver; this is an important step to maintain a relationship based on trust and cooperation.
  • Keep a register of all IT that has not been delivered or is not owned by the IT department. Include an amnesty on all existing “shadow” IT, which should help drive out some useful management information.

There. Simple, isn’t it? As technology evolves, mindsets within IT must evolve with it, and allowing the business to play an active role in delivering IT intelligently and carefully is an important step in that evolution.

So, let them build tech.

What’s been your experience? We’d love to hear how you’ve tackled this in your organisation – or how you wish your organisation tackled it.

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