Address shadow technology at your organization

Shining the light on shadow technology

What is shadow technology exactly? It’s when individuals or departments within an organization use unapproved platforms and technology.

As I noted in Part I, this is problematic for many reasons. Organizations must find ways to address shadow technology.

Typically, employees use shadow technology when their organization is either moving too slow or in the wrong direction to meet their needs. Maybe the digital transformation hasn’t been effective. Or perhaps, people in the field aren’t even aware that certain capabilities are available at the business.

As we discovered in our 2022 Integral Employee Activation Index, most employees who say their organizations are going through a digital transformation are positive about it. In fact, employees believe it will help them to do their jobs better. Yet, employees react negatively when they feel uninformed, or believe that change is being imposed on them. Culture can make or break your digital transformation.

Regulated industries, including industries like healthcare and financial services, have specific and stringent data privacy concerns. But all organizations need to be aware that there’s a risk of shadow technology exposing restricted information.

Organizations are required to meet data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA. They must tightly manage how they share and store information. To clarify, your organization set up your digital workplace to manage these concerns. It’s likely that there are few, if any, controls when employees use shadow technology. Shadow technologies facilitate sharing of restricted data. Which puts your organization at risk.

Your organization must address shadow technology. You’ve got to make your folks comfortable understanding and using your approved communication and technology channels. You can not ignore this problem. You cannot presume everyone is onboard with your organization’s technology—or even understands it or why they need to use it.

Bringing shadow technology out of the shadows

Addressing shadow technology depends on the industry and the complexity of the organization. There’s no simple answer. There is no simple solution. But all organizations need to start somewhere. Shadow technology can invite attacks that threaten the operations and financial stability of any organization exposed to this threat.

Unquestionably, your employees also need to understand the serious ramifications if they are using shadow technology. Beyond significant damage to your organization’s infrastructure, reputation, and bottom line, users of shadow technology could face individual liability.

Address shadow technology

  • If you know that shadow technology is being used, you should be getting in front of it.
  • If you don’t know, you should assume that some employees are using shadow technology.
  • Your employees are just trying to do their jobs. While they may not have malicious intent, employees do need to be aware of what are the unauthorized tools, and what threats they bring.
  • You need to understand which authorized tools aren’t meeting their business needs, and why.
  • Are employees frustrated by getting the runaround or being ignored by IT approvers? Are they having trouble getting approval for what they perceive to be low-cost, high-value platforms to do a more effective job? You may need to review your software onboarding and request processes.

Organizations need to plan for a conscious evolution of their corporate IT ecosystems to safely and securely allow people to work how they want to work. Specifically, much comes down to organizational culture around technology use.

Every year, new ideas and opportunities focus on communications technology. Yet, organizations eventually adopt the best ones. Is your organization keeping up with these technologies to understand how the functionality might impact your employees and your business?

Read Part I to learn more about the risks that shadow technology presents.
Need help bringing your shadow technology into the light?

Integral has experience with both the technology side and the human side of digital workplaces. Take a look at how we can help you evaluate your current digital workplace situation and plan for the future. 

Have concerns about how to address shadow technology? Talk with Scott Ashen, Integral’s Digital Workplace expert.