White paper: Unified communications and team collaboration: The enlightened response to shadow IT

Unified communications and team collaboration: The enlightened response to shadow IT.

Unified communications. It sounds simple enough. But the reality is that achieving unity is complicated in a world where communications are highly individual. Many employees, for example, are empowered to choose and manage their own mobile devices for work. And while they may not be empowered to pick their own business applications, it's nearly impossible to prevent individuals from loading their own mobile apps on their devices - and self-policing those apps with little or no security in place. The result is a proliferation of mobile apps and cloud services determined by personality rather than corporate policy - something that industry experts have dubbed Shadow IT.

The Shadow IT "situation" didn't happen overnight. In many ways, it had been brewing for years as employees grew increasingly disillusioned with traditional communications and collaboration tools. Many enterprise communications applications are still difficult to use, offer limited functionality, lack the latest features and behave differently on different devices, driving users to look for something better in the shadows - that is, in mobile app stores or in an unvetted third party's public cloud. A study by Frost & Sullivan reports that 24 percent of all users say non-approved software meets their needs better than the IT-approved equivalent.

Shadow IT is a big problem with big consequences. In fact, Shadow IT is a much bigger problem than most enterprises realise. In one study of large enterprises1, CIOs were asked how many Shadow IT apps they thought were in their enterprise. Their answer? Less than 100. The reality? More than 1,200 Shadow IT apps per enterprise on average. In other words, CIOs only see about eight percent of what is really happening in the shadows. Further, Frost & Sullivan report that more than 80% of employees admit to using software as a service (SaaS) applications in their jobs without IT approval.