Is shadow technology putting your organization at risk?

Walking in the shadows

What technology is lurking in the shadows of your organization?

Shadow technology is software deployed by people and departments without the approval or involvement of the central IT department, to work around perceived technology shortcomings.

Ask yourself, is there any shadow technology in my organization? If you answered “no,” there’s a good chance you’re wrong.

If you’re managing a digital workplace, you need to know that your employees are using approved channels. But there is a reasonable chance that some aren’t. Whether it’s one person getting an unapproved photo editing license or 50 people off in a corner using WhatsApp, it opens your organization up to significant liabilities. Are your employees using shadow technology or devices to meet their needs—or their customers’ needs?

In the current post-COVID world, many people are still working from home or hybrid. Other employees have always been deskless, continuing to work in a factory or on a manufacturing floor, in a retail environment, or from the road. The technology that these employees need will likely vary. Our 2022 Integral Employee Activation Index showcased the importance of collaboration tools and flexible working arrangements to enhance the employee experience.

The risks of shadow technology
  • cybersecurity risks to employees and the business
  • data security issues
  • compliance risks
  • inadequate oversight for regulatory requirements
  • lack of separation between personal and professional tools
Shine the light on shadow technology: questions to ask
  • Do we have employee acceptance of the approved digital workplace platforms available in my organization?
  • Where is the resistance against the approved platforms? What does that look like?
  • Have we done an effective job of building knowledge and use of the approved platforms?
  • Are we listening to what our employees need?

As I discussed in a previous blog, the strategic needs of the organization should drive the adoption of new technologies. When people are working around (not with) the approved channels, it’s a big risk. So, organizations need to meet people where they are.

Does your technology meet employee needs?

People want to work digitally. And they will find a way to do it whether or not you give them all of the tools they need to do it as they want. Cybercriminals know this and are able to target employees who seem like a weak link. Shadow technology exposes the company to cyber attacks that threaten the operations and financial stability of any organization exposed to this threat.

Bankers especially must not use communication platforms that can’t be audited. There are document retention rules. In financial services, from a data security perspective, a governance, and a compliance perspective, it is crucial for the organization to manage and govern technologies.

Employees need to understand that shadow IT can have severe consequences for their organization. And, consequently, for themselves and their co-workers.

Read Part 2 to learn how to think about and address shadow technology use within your organization.

We’ve got the right lights.

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 and plan for the future.

Have concerns about your shadow technology? Book a consultation with Scott Ashen, Integral’s Digital Workplace expert.

Scott Ashen
Senior Consultant, Workplace CommTech
As a communications and technology consultant for over ten years, Scott’s focus has been on digital workplace strategy and platforms. His twenty years of project management experience has enabled him to lead complex projects from vision to launch in both staff and consulting roles.
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