CIOs Need to Focus on Users, Not (Just) Technology

 In IT Planning

Is the CIO position a technology position? Yes, but it’s also a management position. More and more, the rise of cloud technology and “as-a-Service” delivery of applications and platforms means the position is a business position too.

In fact, the rise of cloud delivery means that CIOs have far less control over corporate use of technology than previously. Studies consistently show that shadow IT is much more widely used than companies estimate, with 10 to 20 times as many cloud applications being used than management knew about.

Because shadow IT impacts the corporate network and data, it introduces information security risks, compliance issues, and potentially capacity problems and inefficient duplication of services.

Partner With the Business to Protect Information

End users don’t use shadow IT to flout the rules; they use shadow IT to solve business problems. Typically, they resort to going around the IT department because their previous attempts at working through the IT department took too long or didn’t provide solutions that worked for them.

That means the solution to the problems shadow IT causes doesn’t mean turning the CIO into the company’s “computer cop,” searching out and shutting down shadow IT usage. It means the CIO needs to change the way the technology department does business. Rather than being the sole source of a company’s technology decision-making and implementations, the CIO needs to turn IT into a resource that supports the business when they find cloud solutions that solve their problems.

The only way the CIO can do that is to understand the end users and the business goals. CIOs need to be aware of what the business needs to deliver to its customers and how consumer-level technology can help them accomplish that. CIOs need to become the source of information that the business users turn to for these solutions.

The IT department can then provide an approved set of technologies that departments can implement for themselves. By monitoring and supporting the business units in those implementations, they can make sure that enterprise-level security concerns are addressed while still empowering end users to choose the solutions that work best for them.

The CIO and IT become a solutions broker, rather than just a solutions provider or solutions blocker. This also gives the CIO the opportunity to speak more often with the business to understand the ways the corporate IT department isn’t meeting their needs. That in turn means the CIO and IT can adapt their processes so they do meet business needs. The ultimate result is improved standard processes that reduce shadow IT and let the tech team ensure that the business uses technology that meets IT standards without getting in the way of the business accomplishing its work functions.

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Shadow IT lets users work with the technology they prefer, which has benefits in terms of lower costs and more efficiency. Empowering users to use self-service cloud applications can also offload work from the IT team and free them up to tackle enterprise-wide technology efforts. But there still needs to be oversight and those user choices still need to support your company’s overall technology strategy.

Get help developing your tech strategy and integrating shadow IT through working with Prescient Solutions. Our CIO Strategic Advisory service can help you explore the impact of shadow IT and incorporate these user-driven solutions into your strategic planning. Contact us for a free infrastructure assessment to start shining light onto those IT shadows.

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