Counterpoint: Shadow IT may still exist, but look at how far technologies and attitudes have come.

In my rebuttal to Gabe’s article, I argue that we’re far better off than we used to be, and the worst of shadow IT is behind us.

Yesterday Gabe made a point about shadow IT (or FUIT, to use our term from a few years ago). He wrote: “We may have called attention to FUIT, but the reality still exists where a user can basically do anything they want if they want to circumvent the established boundaries.” He’s not wrong: It’s true that users can still go rogue if they want, and that the results could have significant negative consequences. However, I see the situation from a different angle, so today I’m sharing my rebuttal.

Counterpoint

Much of the cause of shadow IT around the beginning of this decade was wanting to use modern mobile devices and cloud and SaaS apps. Back then, we didn't’ have the greatest tools and concepts for dealing with these. But today, the story is very different: We have EMM, MDM, MAM, and modern identity management; mobile devices are far more enterprise-ready; SaaS companies are creating enterprise-specific versions of their products; and software vendors like IBM, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft have all embraced mobility and the cloud.

Another major change came in awareness and attitudes. Back in 2011-2012, when we were going on about FUIT and consumerization, we would run into people that hadn’t yet realized the significance of these trends. Occasionally, people that we talked to would be in complete denial. (Remember the days of having arguments about whether the iPhone could be a business phone, or if the iPad was just a toy? Or how about people that would declare: “Nothing happens at my company without me controlling it!”) Today, those arguments are long gone. The question is not if mobile and cloud are real, it’s how will we embrace them?

Yes, some of these technologies are still maturing, and implementing a modern mobile and cloud-enabled EUC strategy is a ton of work. And even after that, we still can’t say that we’ve completely “solved FUIT.”

However, all of these advancements mean that today, creating an enterprise EUC experience that can compete with consumer technology is orders of magnitude more feasible than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Regarding education and enforcement, the experiences enabled by modern EUC technologies mean that more things should “just work.”

But still...

Despite all these EUC tools for cloud and mobile, Gabe still has an important point—users can still go rogue. So how do we reconcile these two concepts? Maybe that’s impossible to do, but I want to close with two more ideas that we talked about a lot back in those FUIT days.

First, we have to remember that at some point, FUIT is no longer an IT issue; instead it becomes an HR issue.

Second, I think most of the pain of FUIT came from switching over from the era of homogenous Windows-centric EUC to today’s heterogeneous Windows/mobile/cloud/everything-else era of EUC. This transition was a one time event, and now we’re past it. (I wrote about this a few years back, and more recently in regards to future technologies.) This is another reason to be optimistic.

So to recap: Yes, FUIT can still be a problem, but there are reasons to be upbeat: We’re past the hardest part, and we have far better tools, awareness, and attitudes now.

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