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Embrace agility to beat shadow IT

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Kathy Gibson reports from SAPInsider in Vienna – Shadow IT has been a massive concern for CIOs for some years now – but so far, no-one has come up with any solutions to effectively address the issue.
The real problem, of course, is that so often third-party cloud-based apps offer the speed and flexibility that the solutions offered by IT simply don’t match up to.
These apps, however, can expose sensitive corporate data in the cloud and potentially create huge security and governance issues.
Chris Hallenbeck, senior vice-president: database and data management: EMEA at SAP, says that IT can now offer users the same agility as these cloud apps, but maintaining the management, governance and security that only the IT department can provide.
“Users want to embrace agile business intelligence, with data mashup capabilities. As we are saying, don’t do it in shadow IT any more, do it here.
“We’ll give you better tools, but we will do it with all the governance built in.
“The reality is that, if IT doesn’t support the processes, users will do it themselves and this will give rise to shadow IT.”
Jayne Landry, global vice-president and GM at SAP Business Intelligence, adds that shadow IT essentially offers the agility that users want, but minus the trust that they need.
“It used to be a case of IT versus business; but we are trying to bring those teams together again.”
SAP is doing this by delivering agility along with trust and scale.
Landry stresses that the role of the data analyst isn’t going to go away, but will actually become more important than ever as business and IT work together to enable the agile business insights that companies need.
Getting there, however, is not a simple journey.
“There has to be a cultural transformation that happens alongside the technology,” she says. “You want to give the business more agility but not let it run rogue.
“We recommend that customers look carefully at the social side of this transformation: looking at the tool, the training and the processes.”
She advocates the establishment of BI competency centres, where members of business and IT can work together to craft relevant business intelligence solutions.
The State of Indiana in the US is a classic example of how this can work, Landry adds.
“It used to be run out of the basement,” she says. “But they created a BI competency centre that brought all the different services together.
“It started out as a war room, but ended up as innovation hub, where teams would share projects. Initially, they would share information about projects, but soon found that data could be shared as well.
“This has reinforced collaboration and that has helped to improve insight.”
This is more important than ever before, Landry adds. “When it doesn’t happen you hear about users running rogue data silos all over the place.
“But, with collaboration, IT can change its role. It is no longer about building models and delivering data, but about providing tools and guidance for users, helping them with implementation, then letting them use the tools themselves.”
This changes the relationship IT has with the business to more of a partnership, she says. “It allows users to be more self-sufficient, and IT to be more strategic – both of them looking at how they can partner to drive business outcomes.”
Another example Landry gives is of an Australian bank that wanted to take 10 000 hours out of the work year. “This is of huge value for the organisation, but not an outcome the CIO would traditionally have thought of.
“Today, we see that CIOs who are working closely with the business, and are thinking about business outcomes.”