The Pros and Cons of Shadow IT

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The global pandemic has seen the adoption of cloud-based services such as SaaS, increase at unprecedented rates, and It’s here to stay. This increasing adoption of cloud brings with it, a serious headache for Managed Services Providers. Quite often, they are not even informed of newly added services. These “invisible services” are referred to as “SHADOW IT” and it is generally 10 times more prevalent than businesses are aware of.

What is Shadow IT?

To put it simply Shadow IT is the purchasing and use on a business network, of hardware and software that has not been approved by IT. The most common culprit is SaaS (Software as a Service), or cloud based services. Recognized business tools such as Trello, Grammarly, Slack, WebEx, Zoom, Google Docs etc. are all prime examples. However, hardware like personal PCs, Laptops, tablets, mobiles and even USB hard drives are all potentially Shadow IT. If a device or service is not approved by IT, the security risks can be serious.

It is important to recognize that 85% of all cloud app purchases are made without prior approval of IT. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that employees working from home have enjoyed more freedom to experiment and have often become more tech-driven as a result. They are increasingly likely to take such matters into their own hands.

Risks Of Shadow IT

There are various risks in purchasing SaaS without IT approval. There are also potential inefficiencies that arise due to improper configuration. Let’s not forget, it’s called “SHADOW IT” because it’s “invisible” to MSPs and IT Departments. If a team relies on a Shadow IT app that breaks down and IT has never been aware of it, then serious productivity problems can arise.

Here is an incomplete list of the risks of shadow IT:

  • Compliance
    • Unapproved services/devices may not be up to code with various standards like HIPAA
  • Security
    • Shadow  devices may not be up to date or have proper access controls
  • Management
    • The IT department cannot easily assist with or account for happenings it does not know about
  • IT productivity

The bottom line is that if IT isn’t aware of an application, they can’t support it, manage it, or make it secure.

Benefits of Shadow IT

If following strict procedure, Employees can often wait for hours, sometimes days for IT to approve “accepted apps” and this is time most people can’t afford to waste, especially when they can download a tool for the job in minutes. In such cases, IT can become a bottleneck to productivity. Shadow IT can lead to improved productivity and the removal of bottlenecks, which in some cases may lead to more quickly completed projects or satisfied customers who would have been otherwise waiting.


MSPs are developing stronger and better relationships with clients and their various department heads. This in turn helps ensure MSPs are made aware of any cloud software purchases, allowing them to offer advice or second opinions. This not only helps MSPs to mitigate potential risks, but also to become recognized by department heads as a trusted adviser, who can be consulted on such decisions.
MSPs can become a strategic fulcrum for Business Departments/Units, where employees turn for help and advice, ensuring they buy the best and safest tools for their teams’ productivity.

Purple Folder can help your company remove or account for Shadow IT, get in touch for a consultation.



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