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Comprehensive UC can ward off shadow IT

August 31, 2015 by

The rise of shadow IT is one of the biggest problems that today's businesses must face. If shadow IT goes unaddressed, there is simply no way for a company to ensure the security of its networks and the sensitive data they contain - including intellectual property and customer information. Additionally, shadow IT can hurt efficiency and collaboration throughout an organization, as personnel will often fail to use compatible IT services.

Unified communications can and should play a key role in warding off the threat posed by shadow IT. With a solid UC solution in place, workers will not feel compelled to seek out shadow IT, which will help to keep the company as a whole safe and efficient.

Understanding shadow IT

To appreciate the threat that shadow IT poses, it is first necessary to understand what this term means. Put simply, shadow IT consists of all the apps, services, and solutions that workers within a company utilize without the approval or awareness of the IT department.

This has major implications. Most notably, there is an excellent chance that workers will turn to IT offerings that do not meet the security standards demanded of items connected to a corporate network. For example, users may use Dropbox or a similar consumer-grade file sharing solution in order to distribute or access work-related materials. While this may help to improve efficiency and flexibility, it can put all of the information stored in those solutions at risk. After all, such personal offerings are not intended to protect corporate data from determined cyberattackers.

The same can be said of a wide range of apps and other IT resources that may be useful for employees, but dangerous for the company as a whole.

Overcoming shadow IT

Unfortunately, business and IT leaders cannot simply forbid the use of nonauthorized apps and devices - such a strategy is doomed to fail. Employees at every organization will have tasks and responsibilities that they need to complete, and they will look for the most convenient, useful tools for achieving these goals. When there is a conflict between abiding by corporate IT policy and performing their jobs, many employees will choose the latter, thereby engaging in shadow IT. This is true even for personnel who would typically follow the rules.

Furthermore, those personnel who avoid shadow IT may become resentful, as their work lives can become more difficult due to a lack of satisfactory IT tools. Ultimately, forcing workers to choose between these two options is simply a no-win situation.

That's why a UC platform can prove so invaluable. Essentially, a high-quality UC system will provide workers with a huge portion of the IT tools they need to maximize their job performance. By ensuring that all of these resources exist on a single, approved platform, company leaders can offer their workers the tools they need to complete their jobs with the greatest possible efficiency and effectiveness, without tempting those workers to use shadow IT. Instead of going rogue, professionals can rely entirely on these company-approved offerings.

Obviously, this provides much greater security, since the UC solutions will have been thoroughly vetted by the company's IT department. Additionally, this approach avoids the compatibility issues that often go hand-in-hand with shadow IT, as it ensures that every worker is using the same set of IT solutions. This can markedly improve efficiency, as well as teamwork, throughout a company's workforce.

Finally, by providing UC to all relevant personnel, business leaders can offer up even greater IT capabilities than their workers would have been capable of unlocking via shadow IT. Users will likely discover useful features that they would never seek out intentionally, further improving their productivity.

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