SaaS has democratized the acquisition of technology for business leaders and, in some cases, avoided the need for IT involvement.
The line of business technology adoption frees CIOs from the minutiae of technology, which creates more bandwidth for strategy, but persists in compliance gaps and security concerns.
Every SaaS app a business buys – called “credit card applications” – can have implications for the business if no one manages the data that enters or exits, said Sheila Jordan, chief digital technology officer at Honeywell, who speaking at a CIO panel hosted by Protocol last week.
The multinational conglomerate Honeywell operates in highly regulated sectors, from aerospace to functional materials. To avoid compliance issues, the company follows a global design model and the IT organization provides the capabilities the business requires, Jordan said.
Honeywell puts guardrails around the use of technology, prioritizing the “better, cheaper, faster and safer” credo while protecting the company’s assets.
The company has 42 active digital transformation programs, including an ERP consolidation, Jordan said. “Every single strategic business unit has a digital agenda and we’re in the middle and helping to streamline that.”
Successful shadow IT deployment works in an environment with centralized management, part of a clear digital enterprise strategy. Department -level technology purchases are inevitable, but technology leaders can use management to reduce risk.
“Shadow IT has a really negative connotation here and I think, as technology leaders, we need to embrace what these people are trying to do,” said Chris Bedi, CIO of ServiceNow speaking to the panel.
Departments are buying technology to improve operations, he said. Technology leaders can provide platforms for departments to develop apps, curate data sets and create proper cyber management and strategy.
“I really think that if we do that we can let all the talent in our companies actually participate in their own digital transformation without having to go to a central organization,” Bedi said.
Shadow IT has been a long -standing phenomenon, but the pandemic has created a new era of business -led IT, where workers decide what apps they want to use for their jobs.
Business lines manage more applications than IT, which costs more than half of all the company’s app ownership, a Productiv report shows. Companies use an average of over 200 apps.
“One of the silver linings of COVID[-19] it has made technology very real and relevant to every individual in the organization, “Jordan said. It opened the aperture to what technology can do for business.
Line of business leaders are turning to data, an area where technology management can be efficient.
FedEx has an enormous amount of data generated from operations around the world, but it’s generally a byproduct – or exhaust – of applications, said CIO Rob Carter, speaking at the panel.
Business partners want data access, so the technology has put guardrails around how data is delivered, controlling what data they see that make up lakes and key data structures.
Business leaders are “hungry to do real work,” Carter said. “We don’t work to try and prevent them, but putting the right guardrails and the right management and management around data is the best way to empower them and at the same time, keep [those] incredible assets that are safe. ”