There’s been an acceleration of SaaS (Software as a Service) use due to the pandemic. Companies that wanted to stay in operation had no choice but to move processes to a cloud environment to enable their employees to work from home. Even once the pandemic has passed, the hybrid work world is here to stay, which means more cloud deployment and environment optimization.
Unfortunately, while companies may think they’re on top of their business cloud infrastructure, statistics show otherwise. Not only is cloud waste increasing along with cloud spending, shadow IT has been running rampant during the pandemic.
Shadow IT is the use of unauthorized cloud applications by employees. It’s estimated that shadow IT use is 10x that of known cloud use. The use of unauthorized applications for work has increased during the pandemic because employees are more likely to use the apps they like when working outside the office.
Shadow IT often happens slowly and is done innocently. Most of the time employees are just looking for a better way to do their work and see an app they like and begin using it. They are unaware of the security and continuity issues that they’re causing by using a SaaS tool that their company doesn’t know about.
While allowing employees at your small business to use the cloud tools they like, might not seem like a big deal, it can put your company at higher risk of a costly cyberattack as well as hold it back from growing as fast as it could. 83% of surveyed IT professionals said that employees at their company stored company data on unauthorized cloud services. The use of shadow IT can leave your business at risk in several ways. These include:
- Data loss when an employee leaves
- A data breach from an unprotected account
- Data isn’t backed up because a company doesn’t know about the cloud app
- Ransomware infection that can travel to the employee’s device and the company network
- Higher cloud costs with a company paying for redundant cloud tools
- Fragmented processes because tools are used outside the company cloud infrastructure
It’s critical to address the use of unauthorized cloud tools and shut them down to keep your cloud infrastructure optimized and properly protected. Here are some steps to help you do that.
Step 1: Create a Cloud Use Survey
As the first step in your process, you should create a survey that you can give to all employees on their cloud use. This will help you approach shadow IT from an optimization and efficiency stance instead of a punitive one. If employees think they are going to get in trouble because they were using an app to try to make their work better, you can end up with some not telling you all the apps they use and others feeling resentful because they had good intentions. Instead, let employees know that the goal is to make the company’s cloud environment more efficient and streamlined, which benefits everyone. Your survey should include questions such as:
- What are all the cloud tools you use for your work? (including any that may not be officially approved?)
- What are the top 3 cloud tools you couldn’t do without and why?
- What are the 3 cloud tools you find the least helpful and why?
- Which cloud tools would you suggest the company adopt and why?
Step 2: Survey Your Employees on Cloud Use
Next, you’ll want to send the survey to your employees. This will provide two key benefits. One is to uncover any shadow apps out there that could be holding business data. The other benefit is to gain important insight to optimise your cloud environment. Your employees may have found tools on their own that are better than the ones you are using, that fill a gap, or that are less expensive and do the same thing as a company-sanctioned app. It’s to your benefit to look at staff feedback and adjust your infrastructure accordingly.
Step 3: Review Feedback & Evolve Your Cloud Environment
Review employee survey feedback on cloud applications to get a better picture of cloud use at your business. It’s a good idea to work with an IT project consultant like Managed IT Asia during this step. We can help you review feedback and provide unbiased insights and guidance as to which cloud accounts should be closed and which should be adopted based on your business goals and user feedback. Update your cloud infrastructure accordingly. For any cloud tools (both authorized and unauthorized) that you will no longer be using, export any data for migration to another tool and close the account.
Step 4: Put a Cloud Use Policy in Place for Employees
Most shadow IT happens because companies don’t have an app use policy in place. So, employees don’t have any guidance as to the apps they are allowed or not allowed to use. Put a cloud use policy in place that provides direction and instructs employees that unauthorized applications cannot be used for work. However, also give employees a way to suggest applications they would like to use for approval. This provides a path of input for your team and helps you continually optimize your cloud environment.
Keep Your Cloud Environment Efficient With Managed Cloud Services
Managed IT Asia can help your Singapore business with affordable managed cloud services to ensure your cloud environment stays optimized, secure, and cost-efficient. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. Call +65 6748 8776 or reach us online.
MANAGED IT ASIA, we are an IT Support, IT Solutioning and Managed IT Service Provider specializing in serving Small Businesses across Asia. Call us at +65 6748 8776 and let us manage your Small Business IT today!