New independent research commissioned by Node4, the cloud-led digital transformation Managed Services Provider (MSP), reveals that 84% of IT decision-makers in mid-market companies think that their influence over IT purchases has diminished in the last 12 months. It’s a situation that has its roots in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, where individuals routinely connect their own phones, laptops, tablets and other devices to corporate IT networks. However, Node4’s research shows an escalation to the point where entire systems and platforms are now routinely purchased at a departmental level without IT team involvement, leaving IT decision-makers feeling increasingly frustrated and powerless.
Now available as a free download from the company’s website, Node4’s Mid-Market IT Priorities Report 2022/2023 also reveals that R&D departments are the biggest culprits for side-stepping IT teams and making unsanctioned IT purchases. This is closely followed by customer service, sales & marketing, human resources and accounting & finance departments.
“The widespread availability of Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings has made it easier for IT departments to adopt business software and applications without on-premises infrastructure, large teams or specialist knowledge,” observes Paul Bryce, Managing Director at Node4. “But it’s also enabled other departments to side-step IT decision-makers and purchase their own solutions — often without IT team consultation or advice. The uptake of remote working during the pandemic and then the long-term adoption of hybrid working, have not helped matters — and it seems decentralisation of people has in many cases, led to decentralised IT purchases.”
When asked how these unauthorised IT purchases impacted their departments, over 40% of IT decision-makers said that increased costs — often associated with fixing mistakes that occurred during installations — were the most significant issue. This was followed by security concerns, issues arising from islands of unintegrated IT and fears about disruption to wider cloud adoption initiatives. Almost a third said that these purchases also affected wider company operations.
The research also pinpointed the top shadow IT-related concern for IT decision-makers across the insurance, transport & logistics, healthcare and online retail sectors. These were as follows:
- Insurance — negative impact on security (43%)
- Transport & logistics — hampered wider cloud adoption (41%)
- Healthcare — increased costs (47%)
- Online retail — increased costs (43%)
Commenting further on the implications of shadow IT and the decentralisation of IT purchases, Paul Bryce notes: “Our two most recent Mid-Market IT Priorities Reports identified BYOD as a significant issue. This year and last year, around one in five respondents said BYOD presents a serious compliance-related challenge — and this year, BYOD was also the fourth most likely barrier to compliance adherence.”
Businesses that are concerned about these issues could consider commissioning an independent IT audit to identify any shadow IT infrastructure. Or they might choose to adopt data security management services — and access professional third-party help, support and advice.
Other long-term solutions could include making a conscious effort to bring departmental heads and other senior executives into IT procurement decisions at a much earlier stage — ensuring their requirements are genuinely listened to and their views given serious consideration. According to the research, this approach may already be gaining momentum: 20% of IT decision-makers plan to involve their senior leadership team in selection processes, and the same number intend to consult board members.
Paul Bryce concludes: “The security risks relating to departmental-level purchases of entire IT systems are also exponentially greater than instances of BYOD — particularly if the systems are isolated from centralised authentication, data regulation, encryption, backup and recovery. With respondents telling us that an increase in cyberattacks represents the most significant current and predicted risk for the second year running, IT decision-makers are in a race against time to bring IT purchases back under centralised control — not just for their own sake but for the long-term health, profitability and sustainability of their entire business.”
To download a full copy of the report, please visit https://node4.co.uk/resource/mid-market-it-priorities-report-2022-23.