Shadow IT, Unapproved Apps: Why IT Needs To Drive Unified Communications

April 25th, 2017 by admin

A tsunami of change is coming in the way businesses communicate. This transformation is being fueled by changes in how customers and employees want to work and interact. How will it impact your business, and can you stay ahead of the wave?
Accenture and others call it “the new omni-channel” phenomenon—offering a single, synchronized experience across a number of channels for employees and customers to interact and do business. As customers demand this more consistent experience, employees are also insisting on the convenience to communicate via the methods that bests suit their styles, however and whenever they prefer. Many say providing this seamless, consistent response will become a business requirement. 
Still others point to the new digital economy and growth of millennials, raised on social media and Facebook, expected to comprise 50% of the workforce by 20201, encouraging the growth of collaborative workspace and “workflow”. This passing of information between employees for next steps and company policies is driving unified communications and collaboration and the move to Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS). From mobile computing, to work anywhere, anytime and bring your own device, the boundaries of work continue to blur with team collaboration at all hours, via a host of technologies across the globe. They’re using company cell phones, devices and apps, alongside personal technology to get the job done, challenging IT not only with growing demands, but an abundance of apps to manage, the threat of increased security risks and fragmenting the workforce as teams adopt disparate solutions. Ready to learn more? Read our free eBook on Unified Communications Deployment Options: Find the Best Fit for Your Business.
Unapproved Apps Lurking In The Shadows
With IT not always relying on the same technologies to the same degree as other departments (as with communications systems, sales databases, call centers, etc.), the IT department may be last to feel the ‘pain’ and know when a ‘solution’ is not addressing business needs. Perhaps employees can easily make and receive phone calls, but holes exist for the help desk in offering enhanced customer service, enabling greater collaboration or gaining increased intelligence, for instance. Software (43%) ranks as a top priority for IT in 2017.2 But, where smaller businesses, untethered by legacy systems or established processes, can often be more nimble, larger, more bureaucratic organizations may be less apt to quickly embrace innovation at the edges. Still other companies may be mired by a culture focused on ‘the way we have always done it’, prolonging legacy investments versus driving forward. The end result can be employee adoption of systems and solutions obtained without proper organizational approval, or “shadow IT”. Perhaps someone in the marketing department recognizes the need for specific collaboration solutions, downloads and expenses an app for their, or the entire department’s, use. This application then rises up as a technology needing to be supported; IT must either enable it for others or shut it down and look for alternatives that can be more widely adopted. Costs of this process quickly mount, with shadow IT management accounting for 35 percent of total IT expenditures in 2015, according to Gartner Group.3 Each additional unsanctioned device or application poses a potential security threat and opportunities for information mismanagement.
Getting Ahead of Shadow IT
A better alternative for IT is to wrangle in existing piecemeal apps and propose larger solutions that can make a pivotal impact on communications across the organization. Even before adoption of apps not approved by the company becomes an issue, IT can elevate its role as a strategist by getting ahead of employee communication requirements, pushing forward new solutions and improvements to the user community versus addressing them after the fact. Upgrading the phone system with a unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) system, for example, is a good place to start. With the ability to provide a single platform for comprehensive applications converging voice, video chat, content sharing, contact center, mobility and more merged into one, UC&C systems can help to bring everyone and everything into the fold, limiting the number of applications that live in each department. With innovative UC&C solutions, IT can even use the same rich platform that employees use to collaborate with partners, customers and other employees to design and administer the company-wide system for on-premises, managed service from the cloud or a hybrid option. And advanced UC&C can often integrate with an organization’s existing CRM systems to leverage information throughout company communications and allow business to function more smoothly. Having access to a full suite of enhanced communications features—with calendar integration to enhanced video chat; Find Me, Follow Me; office anywhere and numerous others—with UC&C preemptively addresses employees’ needs for a host of options to communicate via the method that bests suit their work styles. As a single intuitive client on employees’ desktops advanced UC&C goes far beyond a traditional ‘phone system’ with video conferencing, content sharing and collaboration, call center in one complete experience. And with some systems, employees can pull through the same consistent look and feel whether using it on Mac, PC or mobile device. Other examples of advanced UC&C features that can help employees to have a more integrated, omni-channel communications experience include the following:
  • Push to join meeting to effortlessly transfer calls from one’s desktop phone to their cell phone to untether from the desk and back again, to never miss a meeting.
  • The ability to easily escalate communication—from IM, to call, online meeting and video web desktop—with the push of a button.
  • The ability to join a call from a cell phone from the road to avoid distracting travelling employees.
  • Integration with Salesforce, and other CRM tools, to automatically populate information about a customer or other contact that’s calling—including company, last ticket, important notes and more—on an employee’s computer screen as the call is received or made, enabling enhanced customer service.
  • Video conferencing built in, with multi-party video collaboration.
Though it can require some digging, getting ahead of business needs before they become apparent can help IT to adopt technologies that are robust, secure and future-proof to ensure collaboration across the organization that can in turn be leveraged for years to come. In addition to bringing opportunities for streamlining communication, the right options can be provisioned quickly, are easy to use and minimize temptation for employees to use their own apps. In the end, they can also free up staff time to support the evolving needs of the business. Want to get ahead of shadow IT and offer your employees a more collaborative experience that empowers innovation? Download our free eBook on Unified Communications Deployment Options: Find the Best Fit for Your Business to learn more or contact us at ProTelesis for a free consultation! New Call-to-action 1 “Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace,” PwC, 2011 2 “IT Priorities 2017: What will IT decision makers be focusing on?,” Computerweekly, December 7, 2016. 3 “Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2012 and Beyond”.  

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