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Data Disconnect and Shadow IT

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Yes Shadow IT again.

But…rather than rehash the things I’ve talked about before, I wanted to take some time to walk through a few issues that aren’t always discussed when we talk about Shadow IT.

The first is Data Disconnect, which I’ll talk about here. The 2nd is…well…you’ll have to check back later this week for that post.

Data Disconnect is exactly what it sounds like. Your Shadow IT ‘initiatives’ might just have created an environment where you have multiple disparate systems with a data disconnect.  The data in one system isn’t readily available for use in another…nor is it readily available for use in any other system.

Why might this be a problem? Lets look at a few examples.

Project Management

You need a project management tool and don’t want to use the IT provided Microsoft Project platform. You hate Gantt Charts and feel that you really need collaboration tools, which is something that Project doesn’t really do well.  The IT group offers you access to the new SharePoint system for Project Management + collaboration, but you really don’t want to have to go through the hoops necessary to get your team trained up on this new system and, if you are honest with yourself, you really hate SharePoint and will do anything to not use it.

So…you go out and plunck down your credit card number for access to Basecamp for you and your team.  You love basecamp. Your team loves basecamp.   The platform is a great place to collaborate and manage your marketing projects.

But…what do you do when the day arrives where you have to leave Basecamp?  What do you do with your data stored inside the app? What happens to all of the project knowledge from the projects and project teams that have worked inside Basecamp?    Do you just let them go or do you spend a few days downloading everything manually (or perhaps there is an API that lets you do this?).

Regardless…these things happen. While the Basecamp app was great while you used it, what happens when you stop using it (or are told to to stop using it)?  If you think about this issue beforehand, it may not be an issue at all since you can keep ‘local’ copy of data/knowledge…but the collaborative environment inside Basecamp might be gone forever once you stop using it.

Another Example – Web Analytics

You have an analytics tool that you love to use to analyze your websites. Whether its Google Analytics or  some other platform…you use it for years to track and analyze the websites of your organization.

Your CIO takes the initiative to purchase an enterprise license to a different platform to for web analytics. While they come to you for advice on this new platform, they decide to go with a platform different than your favorite one.

You love your analytical platform and have no interest in ever giving it up, but you try out the new system but it just doesn’t do what you think you need it to do.

So…you stick with your analytics platform and IT sticks with theirs. Their platform is used to track analytics of the ecommerce site and other IT driven websites.   You continue to use yours to analyze the sites that you are responsible for.

Then…you and your IT counterparts are asked to start combining your analytics reports.  Rather than push a few buttons to get a combined report, you now have to do a bunch of spreadsheet engineering to combine data…or perhaps you can build some scripts to combine data.  But…either way, you are doing additional work to combine data.

Data Disconnect

In both of the above instances, you are in the Data Disconnect world.

The Data Disconnect isn’t a reason to shy away from the world of Shadow IT, but it is something that everyone needs to be aware of when thinking about “going around” IT to purchase/implement your own systems.

In all of the groups I’ve worked with, there’s been little discussion of the Data Disconnect…but there should be.This Data Disconnect is also one of the issues that the IT group / CIO need to focus on as an educational aspect within their organizations as Christian Verstraete wrote in his Enterprise CIO Forum titled Shadow-IT, it’s forbidden to forbid.

You can do your job. And…you can do your job well.  But…your work is being done in a vacuum.

Your data might remain in that vacuum. But worse….whatever knowledge that data might create (or has created) will remain in that vacuum as well.

Image Credit: Disconnected by By Bee-Brilliant on Flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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