With CMOs controlling more IT spending for organizations, so-called “shadow IT” is becoming a problem.

The issue is that CMOs are implementing solutions without IT involvement and possibly exposing the organization. Putting the organization at risk is the first concern, can it be supported, can the data be tracked, separated, safeguarded, backed up, who has ownership of the data, is it portable, is it cross-platform capable, does it compromise existing infrastructure, scalability and application security are all major concerns that organizations face when CMOs and CIOs do not cooperate. A power struggle then ensues as both colleagues are at the same management level.

CIOs are at a disadvantage as to how to support the applications and often cannot assess the risk posed to the organization because it is implemented without IT involvement. The possible business disruption and the fragment infrastructure strategy it creates within organizations will cause many new problems down the road that are presently unforeseen.  The support, upgrades, and security are often facilitated by the vendor or combination of new hires to support and administer the new applications. These specialized IT administrators for the new apps cause conflicts with existing IT resources as to the overlap of duties, whom to listen to and which application to support and integrate into existing infrastructure.

Organizations are facing integration issues, data mining, reporting issues, security and actual adoption by implementing non-IT approved applications.  This further fragments infrastructure, platform and application IT vision that can quickly be derailed. Larger organizations are less vulnerable due to the rigidity of hierarchical management structure and more defined rules of each individual’s job responsibilities. Small and Medium sized organizations are more susceptible to this new wrinkle as roles are sometimes less defined a less enforced where IT strategy is concerned.

CMOs and CIOs will have to find a way to work together to bridge these differences and solve the business issues that shadow IT will create. One disturbing trend we are seeing is that CMOs are implementing applications usually SaaS-based and due to the lack of upfront commitment are quickly abandoning these applications for various reasons which creates higher organization risk for auxiliary and errant data. This issue is often not dealt with organizationally. Users also can become desensitized to conformance to proper IT corporate-wide implementation procedures that increase the chance of IT failure for larger projects. Another effect of this is end-user fatigue and overload. Spending time and energy to learn many new applications only to later abandon them causes confusion as to what applications are used for what purposes. Consequently, different rules of conduct also may apply as to conformance and restrictions to the newly installed applications.

Shadow IT will pose many problems for organizations in the future by implementing parallel solutions some with possible overlap and determining how to consolidate, administer, secure, back-up and storage, integrations, and rules of conduct are all areas where organizations are potentially vulnerable.

It will be interesting to see how these C-level executives work together and how possible organizational structure changes may occur due to this new fad.

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