Why IT Still Matters and Rogue IT

There has been a lot of press and conversations lately on “Rogue IT”, particularly with the proliferation of BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud).   It’s an important topic as it relates to the changing dynamics of IT, the core competencies of a CIO, and where IT can really add value to an organization.  IT still has a role here, and it will be most effective when playing the role of a consultant to the business.

First, the word “rogue” is not an accurate description of what’s occurring. The description implies a negative view of the relationship between IT and the business when in reality, it’s a an acceleration of technology innovation and capabilities. No longer do you need a central IT department to facilitate and lead every technology decision. The rogue term may truly have been negative many years back when business units would try to make IT decisions with vendors without involving IT.  It caused conflicts at the time and the tactics did not advance innovation, but that’s not the case today.

Today, it’s extremely easy for any user to cut a deal with a cloud company for almost any business capability or computing resource.  I’ve seen it many times.   However, this actually can be a good thing as it accelerates innovation and the solving of business problems that are so critical to an organization.  Where this falls down, however, is where the CIO or IT department is completely unaware or left out of the conversation. When this happens, important enterprise issues around security, data privacy, data integration, pricing, backups, SLA’s and many other important topics are typically ignored.

So, how should a CIO deal with “rogue” or “shadow” IT?  Embrace it!  Use your influencing skills to demonstrate to the other departments that what they’re looking at can be good, and powerful tools, and that they should use IT as a consultant to help them achieve their goals.  That’s the key.  You’re not there to say no, but probe and bring issues that will resonate with them.  Ask them how the information will be maintained (think efficiency). Will information be needed from other systems, or vice-verse (data quality and efficiency)? Security or backups won’t typically be of interest, but focusing the consulting view on what matters to them most will get IT involved in the end.  Once involved, the other enterprise issues can be reviewed, and it’s your job to do this without saying “no”.

So, embrace BYOC, BYOD, and the consumerization of IT and focus on solving business problems.  The users will begin to come to you earlier in the process.  You’ll get farther, you’ll be more successful, and in the end, the enterprise wins.

Send me your views and comments: @sappley