Shadow IT's Growing Footprint

By Tony Kontzer  |  Posted 01-16-2014 Email

The "shadow IT" phenomenon may be a bigger issue than companies have realized. As software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps have risen in effectiveness, stature and influence, their use outside the purview of IT has spread like wildfire. Such are the findings of a study conducted for McAfee by Stratecast, a unit of Frost & Sullivan. In surveying 300 IT workers and 300 line-of-business workers at enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Stratecast found that more than 80 percent of both groups admit to using SaaS apps at work without IT's approval. Despite the fact that many respondents are aware that they're circumventing IT approval processes and introducing potential risks, they feel that the business value in rogue SaaS apps outweighs any potential concerns. The message for employers is clear: "Businesses need to protect themselves, while still enabling access to applications that help employees be more productive," said Pat Calhoun, McAfee's general manager of network security. Specifically, the study makes a few pointed recommendations: Don't block popular SaaS apps that help employees get their jobs done; give employees the freedom to choose from the broadest possible range of approved apps; and implement a security solution that allows access to SaaS apps while protecting against malware and data loss. Such steps figure to become even more important, as Frost & Sullivan predicts that the SaaS market in North America alone will reach $23.5 billion by 2017.

Tony has been writing about the intersection of technology and business for more than 20 years and currently freelances from the Grass Valley, Calif., home where he and his wife are raising their two boys. A 1988 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and regular contributor to Baseline since 2007, Tony's somewhat infrequent Twitter posts can be found at


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