‘Shadow IT’ is a term used to describe information technology systems and solutions built and used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval. Simon Mingay, Vice President of Research at Gartner has said that it is “better to embrace it and acknowledge that…in the increasingly digital workplace Shadow IT is an opportunity to innovate and create more value from IT and digital investments.”
Many employees believe that Shadow IT lowers IT costs, adds more flexibility, and reduces the time and hassle spent dealing with corporate IT departments. If this is true, ‘Shadow Telecom’ must also produce a similar positive result. And, for the most part, it delivers.
But telecom is different.
Most organizations end up paying dearly for Shadow IT and Shadow Telecom. In many respects shadow Telecom brings the worst of all worlds. Organizations pay for expenses, but there is no oversight or management of the expenses and the organization also loses its opportunity for volume discounts and bulk purchases. Telecom and cable companies bypass corporate contracts and sell services locally with bigger markups compared to corporate contracts. Finally, shadow telecom and maverick buying of services exposes organizations to increased security risks.
Here are some tips to gain control and reduce Shadow Telecom:
- Reinstitute the Telecom department as the single gatekeeper for communications solutions.
- Enlist executives to help champion a unified approach that provides some flexibility to employees while still ensuring that telecom is centrally managed.
- Identify weaknesses that caused the need for Shadow Telecom.
- Reduce the time to evaluate new devices and services.
- Streamline the process to get smartphones and telecom services for new employees.
- Reestablish relationships with departments and individuals that regard the telecom department as an impediment to getting their job done or obtaining the services they need.
- Educate and enforce the rules on communications technology that cannot be tolerated and why it is a problem.
Many organizations are re-thinking BYOD initiatives and moving back to corporate liable programs.
A good Telecom Expense Management (TEM) program will help provide a way to unify ordering of telecom services and management of expenses. Specialized procurement portals for mobile services can help streamline ordering of new devices and mobile services. TEM programs with call accounting can provide reports to identify breaches when unapproved carrier services are used, and help enforce the enterprises’ telecom rules.