Shadow IT and Information Optimization

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Following up my Data Disconnect and Shadow IT post from yesterday, I wanted to talk about the 2nd area that is often overlooked when people undertake their own Shadow IT initiatives.

In my previous post, I talked about the Data Disconnect. That space where the data in your Shadow IT applications is disconnected from the rest of the organization.

This disconnect is something that requires the IT group to educate the rest of the organization as highlighted by Christian Verstraete in the his Enterprise CIO Forum titled Shadow-IT, it’s forbidden to forbid.   In some instances, the Data Disconnect isn’t a big issue…but many times, the disconnect is a huge risk for the organization.

Today, I want to talk about another aspect of Shadow IT related to Data  and Information…the optimization of data.  The world today is ruled by data.  That data is turned into information and sometimes that information is converted into knowledge.

When data lives outside the enterprise in the cloud or within a local ‘shadow’ database, it’s disconnected.  To be able to use the data within your organization’s applications, they need to be connected. Therefore…the first step is solving the Data Disconnect problem.

Once you know how you’ll solve that disconnect problem…whether by using internal systems, API’s to access cloud app data or simple scripts to dump/convert data…then you need to think about the Optimization and Conversion problem.

The optimization problem is a big one.

There is a ton of useful (and useless!) data in every organization living as structured and unstructured data.

Structured data is quite easy to access and use and is fairly easy to connect when you face yourself with a data disconnect. Find the data. Access/Dump the data. Use the data.  Repeat.

Unstructured data is different. This is the data that is growing exponentially these days. Its your email, text messages, twitter messages, blog posts, images, videos etc.   The data stored within these mediums is unstructured in that it is text based and or audio/video. Optimizing and using this data is difficult when its stored inside enterprise applications and its even more difficult when this type of data is stored in applications that aren’t managed by the IT group.

This unstructured data is what you find in collaboration tools. Its the information that your team’s share and knowledge that your team’s create.  If its stored in a third-party system with little to no access to retrieve the data, its not only disconnected, but useless.

Imagine that you work with a virtual team that is  ‘in the cloud’.  You use something like Basecamp or some other web based project management and collaboration tool to manage your projects.  In addition, your team uses email and an instant messaging platform like Skype to keep in touch throughout the day.

A great deal of knowledge flows through your collaboration platforms….but what happens to that knowledge after the first creation  and share?  Does it sit out in ‘the cloud’ forever and is never revisited…or do you somehow grab that knowledge to ‘share’ with the rest of your organization.

You can’t optimize the information and/or share the knowledge if it isn’t held within the organization’s systems in a manner that use usable and accessible.  This is the challenge of information optimization in the world of Shadow IT. There’s a lot of data / information / knowledge created that might be lost ‘in the cloud’ when these things aren’t considered.

So…CIO’s and IT groups…take the time to educate your organization on the pro’s and con’s of Shadow IT.  If people are adamant about using a cloud service that doesn’t fit into the IT Strategic roadmap, make sure you understand why they are so adamant about it and what they and you must do to make sure the Data Disconnect and Information Optimization problems are considered and addressed.

Image Credit: Information By heathbrandon on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

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  1. [...] it helps the organization understand the underlying issues found within Shadow IT (data disconnect, information optimization, etc) but it should also stress the security implications found within Shadow [...]

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