The Shadow IT Department

Espen Andersen points me to this article about how advanced users build their own set of tools to be more effective. Tools that the central IT department at their place of work don’t provide.

As Mr. Dr. Andersen points out, this is not exactly news, but I think the phenomenon accelerates right now. Because of powerful tools on the internet that tend to be more user friendly and effective than what the IT departments provide. And I think that Ben Worthen is spot on right here:

Users want IT to be responsive to their individual needs and to make them more productive. CIOs want IT to be reliable, secure, scalable and compliant with an ever increasing number of government regulations.

Firefox with a lot of plugins is on the top of my list of tools that never was provided by the local IT department where I work. And, in Firefox our friends at Google provide me with some important tools as well. I am a heavy user of Gmail, Google Reader, Calendar and Docs & Spreadsheets. In addition to this, stuff like IM, Skype, del.icio.us, FTP clients and hardware like my personal digital camera, and a couple of personal computers at home pops up in my mind. And probably a lot of other tools as well.

And yes, I clearly see that there are issues with heavy use of non standard tools. Security issues. Standardization problems. It’s the good old question of security vs. usability.

Do you have other examples? What is your favorite tool that was never installed or supported by your IT department?

The Shadow IT Department

5 thoughts on “The Shadow IT Department

  1. Dr. Andersen, if I may…. ;-)

    As for my favorite tool: FolderShare, from foldershare.com. Mirrors folders on different computers (one is an old clunker I have in my office, with a huge USB harddisk) and allows me access to my files from anywhere. No hassle save the occasional doubling of files (which is easily remedied.) And an IT manager’s nightmare – users mirroring content outside the moat?

  2. My favorite tool and a highly needed necessity the it department hadn’t even heard of – SnagIt. Of course no support or licences on such was supported – just hit print screen – as per their instructions. They didnt even provide the alt + print screen.

  3. Firefox indeed!
    Now with about ten extensions.

    Another one I cannot live without anymore is Google desktop search.
    Gmail is quickly becoming my center of the universe.

    I have made Google Calendar an ‘always from every device accessible calendar that finally syncs with my corporate Outlook':
    I use my PDA (a personal tool, not provided by IT) to sync with Outlook and then sync it with GCalendar using GooSync. With GCalendar and a Goosync account, even my SonyEricsson phone stays up-to-date with my appointments.

    Other priceless tools:
    – LinkedIn, a social networking ‘tool’ that works both ways. Find others an be found.
    – Plaxo: keep your address book automatically up-to-date

    I’ll give foldershare a try, because it’s not backup but synchronisation that I need.

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