Beware the data-creep of “Shadow IT”

We’ve seen a recurring pattern at a few clients and prospects recently that require some attention and remediation. The common theme is that the pandemic hit with a sudden impact on business operations out of the blue in March 2020, and up until that point, the business had been relying on traditional on-premise file servers to house common files on shared directories on file servers while user files were often saved in MyDocuments which mapped to user home folders on the network server as well. However, everyone had to scramble to working remotely, and those remote users were quickly setup with VPN access to connect to those file shares remotely.

While the user could access the files, sometimes access was slow, and collaboration with coworkers brought nothing but challenges. While Suite3 was leading training sessions and helping some implement platforms like Microsoft Teams to aid in collaboration, many businesses hunkered down and felt that a pandemic was no time to try to introduce something new to their technology mix.

As a result, users were left to fend for themselves, and started assorted “shadow IT” initiatives – unofficial use of technologies to help them get work done. In many cases, that included signing up for external data storage platforms like Google Drive, Box.net, Dropbox, or similar, and moving files outside of company knowledge or control.

The problem is that many of these clients are in industries that have data privacy and regulatory requirements. Fast forward to today and the wrangling of data back into company control is moving to a front-burner issue.

The good news is there are ways to take that data that used to be housed in company-controlled file servers and move them to company-controlled cloud platforms. For example, many of the businesses have existing Microsoft 365 subscriptions currently being used solely for hosted email. However, moving those user home folders to OneDrive and those common file share directories to Sharepoint whereby users can access their data from anywhere with an internet connection is pretty straightforward. In fact, we can even make access easy by providing users links on their desktops to those two locations so end-user training and adoption is streamlined.

If this challenge sounds familiar, let’s have a conversation. The pandemic required quick solutions to ensure survival. We’ve made it this far together – now is the time to reexamine what was done and make it done right.