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CIO Insights: Dealing with shadow IT

Rebecca Merrett | Feb. 3, 2014
Three Australian IT leaders share their advice

It's also possible in the scenario that marketing didn't even realise IT could help them and just assumed they couldn't. So it's having people in your team dedicated to being there with the different stakeholders, knowing where the business is going and offering these options. That way you become part of the solution, not part of the problem.

IT has to dedicate itself, real resources to work with the different stakeholders around the business so that they can anticipate needs, make constructive suggestions early, and become one of the "options".

Business partnering is not just about having an open door policy and hoping people will walk in and talk to them every time they want something. It's about having dedicated professionals within the IT organisation whose entire job it is to get out there and find out. It's like account management.

Inevitably, the CIO will have to make a decision where to use resources because no one ever really gets more money than they had before. It's not a no brainer, because effectively what you are doing is you are asking the organisation to invest in this capability and the organisation is often not going to be well disposed towards investing in what you might call "internal account management". They are not going to see the value.

They are going to say, 'If you can afford taking three people off normal operational work to do that, then why don't you just cut three headcount out of your team altogether and then just don't do it at all?' So you are going to have to have that debate. Just getting the license to put those people on board is hard. And if you do it, they then have to show their value.

But if you don't have those people, how can you expect you are going to be able to collaborate effectively and actually add value on the team? I think it is the most strategic investment that an IT organisation can make internally.

Johan Sulaiman, head of IT - Asia Pacific at LEK Consulting

This situation most likely happens when the CIO or IT director is not responsive to the business needs, is not engaging him or herself into the business, and is still having that mentality of 'this is my domain, you come to me if you need anything'.

If they come to you with an idea and you keep saying to them 'let me come back to you in a month after we evaluate this thing', then they'll think the IT team and leadership is not on top of the game.

They might think, 'if I share this project with IT, they'll make it a slow process, they put a lot more roadblocks, so let me do it myself'.


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