Why your IT staff shouldn’t be worried about shadow IT apps

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A note to all information technology employees at B2B firms: employers are no longer concerned about shadow IT apps as they view them as beneficial for innovation and cutting costs.

According to a new survey from Canvas, a B2B SaaS platform provider for mobile app data collection and sharing, employers are a lot more comfortable with shadow IT. Executives feel that shadow apps, whether they’re cloud or mobile-based, are delivering positive results for companies’ bottom line. And, pretty much, that’s all what matters.

The Rise of Shadow Apps

For years, businesses and IT teams have been worried about employees installing their own apps who wanted immediate access to software without going through red tape and endless bureaucracy. The threat of security risks and control issues had been the chief concerns.

However, researchers say that giving those within an organization freedom to use their own technology is leading to greater innovation within enterprises. Since workers can simply install technology and use those offered solutions, employees can pounce on ideas and solve common problems almost immediately.

“The ability of mobile apps to rapidly improve the bottom line and boost top line performance is changing perspectives on shadow IT – broadly defined as applications and solutions built within an organization that the IT department is either unaware of or has not officially sanctioned,” the report said.

But IT departments aren’t reciprocating with a cold shoulder of their own. It’s true that IT professionals are more comfortable with shadow IT, but, with that being said, they still detest the concept of apps or systems constructed without their help or approval.

The solution to this problem is to take a lead regarding shadow IT, experts suggest. Rather than ignoring the matter, IT departments can lead initiatives and foster a workplace culture of innovation and give a hand to any sort of citizen software developer.

A Peek Inside the Report’s Findings

Speaking with 400 executives, the Third Annual Canvas Mobile Business App survey revealed that businesses are increasingly looking at shadow IT as a way to enhance workforce innovation and rein in cost management. Moreover, the study discovered that mobile business apps are assisting in overall productivity, corporate compliance and cost savings.

Marketing teams have conceded that the best way to combat rising digital competition and to reach their targeted markets is to develop their own mobile business app. The survey found that 61 percent of marketers created their own mobile business app last year without any assistance from the IT department.

Employees aren’t waiting for the expertise of the IT department. The survey notes that 81 percent of executives say their business teams are either very or somewhat comfortable in establishing a business mobile app without help from the IT professionals.

With this level of comfort, the number of apps being created is rising: 25 percent used at least 10 mobile business apps last year. And they’re doing it quickly, too: 76 percent developed a cloud-based app in one day.

What have been the results? Here is a glimpse inside the benefits:

  • 92 percent cited increased business productivity.
  • 66 percent said apps saved the company five hours of work for each employee.
  • 64 percent allude to an improvement in the compliance process.
  • 31 percent reported savings of at least $10,000 in 2015.

Despite the cold shoulder enterprises have given to their IT department, researchers note that everyone is depending on them when something goes wrong. It can be likened to standing by with a fire extinguisher as people do things to ignite flames.

With tight budgets and an ultra competitive marketplace, B2B organizations can encourage shadow IT since it allows workers to create their own personalized solutions without holding their hands. Also, as previous research has found, shadow IT solutions often align with what the business needs, not to mention it curtails obstacles and improves productivity.

Most important of all – and B2B IT departments may not realize this – such a method reduces the burdens they have on their shoulders.

“Most IT departments face a perpetually long list of IT project requests from employees and business units,” James Quigley, CEO of Canvas, said in an interview with MRC Productivity. “Requests are arranged by their perceived significance to the organization financially, operationally or politically, and as a result the project requests that tend to get the short end of the stick are internally facing applications, such as a solution to streamline logistics.”

Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons

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Andrew Moran

Andrew Moran is a full-time professional writer and journalist, who covers the areas of business, economics and personal finance. He has contributed to Benzinga, Capital Liberty News, Career Addict, Money Morning and PFHub.