@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Charles Araujo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Rogue Users and the Future of Corporate IT

Cloud computing can be seen as an important enabler for more user and business empowerment

Cloud computing can be seen as an important enabler for more user and business empowerment. Traditionally we consideredany IT outside the IT department’s purview“Rogue IT” or “Shadow IT”.  In this blog we examine how further user empowerment may impact the future of corporate IT.

Rogue IT (sometimes called shadow IT or consumerism) is the phenomena in which employees outside the IT department deploy IT technology to achieve or automate certain tasks. Rogue IT is not a new phenomenon. But cloud computing is giving it a new runway and much better camouflage, since with cloud computing you do not need to secretly misuse a server that IT made available for another purposes or explain to your colleagueswhy you have all these computers under your desk.

The idea of IT outside the IT department is enjoying renewed interest. Ted Schadler of Forrester wrote an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review called “IT in the Age of the Empowered Employee”. A recent Forrester survey of 4000 US-based knowledge workers found that no less than37% are using do-it-yourself technologies . In his new book,Empowered, he calls these covert innovators HEROes — highly empowered and resourceful operatives. CBC news ran a feature and and CIO magazine picked up on the topic recently using the term Stealth Cloud.

Personal Experience
Personally I had my first encounter withrogue IT many years ago, during my first assignment in one of Holland’s largest multinationals. The company had a department called “Information Systems and Automation”, ISA for short, that used mainly mainframes to run corporate reporting and accounting.But there was also ISA-2, a divisional IT department, which ran operational and planning systems. Their platform of choice was PDPs and Digital VAX. At the production location where I worked (a massive manufacturing plant so far in the south of Holland that it was practically considered a foreign factory) we had ISA-3, a local IT team that supported office automation and printing using the then just emerging PC platform.  But all these were not considered rogue; this structure was a logical consequence of the fact that bandwidth at the time was so expensive that this was the best way to deliver IT services.

How easily we forget in the age of the cloud (and if your orgchart still looks like this it might be time to reconsider).  I met the rogue IT function called “ISA4” on the second day that I was working there. 
The plant at which I was stationed manufactured medical equipment for which it was necessary to calculate the exact trajectory of electrons. For this, the head engineer had obtained a portable (at that time state of the art) luggable, suitcase size UNIX system, that he took home at night so these calculations could be run while he enjoyed a good night’s rest. So far, so good. Were it not that on that system he also built a small inventory and quality assurance system that kept track of all the work-in-process in the factory. This data was manually typed into the corporate and divisional systems at the end of each month (these were “primary records” as my EDP auditing professor would point out). Now each of these pieces of medical equipment cost more than my car (my current car, not the piece of … I drove back then) and the final QA outcome (approved or scrap) was extremely important for the financial and commercial success of the manufacturing operation.  Yet, every evening this crucial data left the premises, only to arrive back, provided our lead engineer did not run into a streetcar on his way to work.

Moving on
Now this was many years ago.Since then, all systems have been replaced by bright and shiny ERP applications (first at the divisional level and later at the corporate level) and this factory has been consolidated, off-shored, outsourced and then insourced again and the type of equipment has long been replaced by a whole new generation of (you guessed it) digital technology. But I am sure that in that new factory,there are still users outside of the IT department building rogue solutions and applications, because that is what smart employees tend to do.

Not saying I am such a smart employee, but with most of the jobs I held since (in marketing, sales, business development, even some in IT) I managed to create my own rogue pet systems. It started by using a Windows help text compiler and the office CD writer to save time on faxing product information to 12 European offices each Friday night, then developing a Lotus Notes system for gathering enhancement requests, followed by a rogue intranet site (Hey, somebody gave me a fileserver password and IIS was already on there) and then a kind of precursor to Salesforce.com (a CRM intranet site for logging visit reports and forecast data). I somehow was lucky and my rogue systems never caught a virus, but a colleague of mine used an unpatched test version of SQL server for his pet project, that caught the famous SQL slammer bug and subsequently pulled down all SQL and network traffic in the complete enterprise (it was not a comfortable conversation with his boss and the head of IT the next morning).

Apart from these security horror stories, the problem with these industrious/innovative end-usersis that they (including myself) sooner or later get bogged down by the same thing that is slowing down IT departments: providing support and maintenance to what they created earlier. Thus, 70% of the overall IT budget is spent on “keeping the lights on”. As soon as a user has developed something really cool, for example, a way to use his iPhone to support his customers, five of his colleagues will want the same. Two of these colleagues may not have an iPhone but instead use a Blackberry (cutting our innovator’s development productivity in half, as he now has to build and support the functionality on 2 platforms). So he spends less time on his real job and basically becomes a type of IT person. This is why after a while –either when he gets fed up with the support job or when he moves to a new job (these industrious types tend to get either promoted or fired quickly, depending on the type of organization)-IT is called back in to … clean up the mess. Which results in the IT department having even less time or budget available to provide the type of innovations the business was looking for in the first place.

The cloud impact
The beauty (or danger) of cloud computing is that it allows business users to not only create such innovations by “hobbying around” on their phones or PCs. They now can go out and contract with outside vendors to create such solutions in a more professional - but still rogue-  way. Traditionally, business users had to go through the IT department for any such investment, as anything that had to run on the corporate network or servers had to be approved by corporate IT. With cloud computing the new applications however no longer run on the corporate network or servers, enabling these business departments to completely go outside.

Neither of the two described scenarios are desirable. We don’t want creative business people bogged down by maintenance tasks, nor do we want end user departments to contract with any IT vendor they like, bypassing any attempts we made at having any type of enterprise architecture in the process. But at the same time we do want this type of user led innovation to continue. Somebody (some department) however will need to guide and orchestrate these innovations. IT would be the logical candidate, but only if they can free up their time and resources away from “keeping the lights on” towards these more innovative tasks.  And again cloud computing, with its potential to deliver formerly complex IT tasks “as a service” to the IT department, may be just the recipe to free up IT’s time from the mundane, towards these  more innovative and differentiating endeavors.
End user computing

An interesting phenomenon in this context is end user computing and especially sharepoint. Here the IT department in many organizations seems to provide end users with a gun to shoot themselves with in the foot. Many users start enthusiastically, to find out after a year the maintenance is overwhelming, prompting them to abandon the project or start over. The fact that many of these sites are aimed at specific department makes this worse, as organizational structures tend to change yearly or even more frequently, rendering the sitesobjectives and design no longer valid. Now many IT folks will say: but then the design was simply wrong, if you mirror the orgchart, your system will always become obsolete, you should mirror the process or even better the data model as those tend to be much more stable. It is kind of a right brain - left brain thing. And that is exactly why it makes sense to involve the structured – systemic thinking of IT folks in helping users come up with solutions that match their needs. This however is only likely to happen if these IT folks are working inside these departments.

A well-documented case around this is the reshaping of IT done at Procter & Gamble by CIO Filippo Passerini. Under his leadership P&G outsourced a large part of their hard core infrastructure tasks several years ago. The majority of the retained IT people were reallocated(also physically) to work in business departments like marketing, product development, sales etc. Together with their business colleagues they started creating new solutions and approaches to both operational and strategic issues, like creating a closely monitored social media / advertising campaign as recently described in Fortune magazine (hardcopy only). In this way IT’score strengths like structured thinking and problem solving capabilities,start toplay a crucial role in the overall success of the enterprise again. This however only happens after a large part of the repetitive infrastructure related services that traditionally keeps IT busy,  are supplied as a utility, eitherby using an outsourcing construct or by leveraging the cloud.

Time for Hybrids
This approach of IT and business working closely together was one team instead of in silo’s seems only logical, but reality in a lot of industries is that IT actually became more siloed in the last decade. A case in point, personally I was one of the first graduates of a new curriculum called IT & Business, which consisted of – you guessed it - 50% IT and 50% business and economics subjects. The goal of the study was to develop hybrids, people able to straddle and connect business and IT (either working as IT person in a business department or as a business person in an IT department. After my study I started in IT in the pharmaceutical industry and quickly discovered that there were only two departments recognized by management as strategic to the successof that industry: sales and research (funnily enough in that order). IT came in a long range of supporting departments that included finance, manufacturing, logistics, HR, catering and yes, also IT. Being young and having unmatched faith in the power of IT technology I moved over to an industry where IT waspretty core (the IT industry itself) and rapidly found out that my study - that straddled IT and Business - also came in quit handy when trying to sell or market IT stuff to business people.

During those years on the vendor side I observed a distinct widening of the chasm between IT and business. While early in my career I found the IT manager often was the best person to talk to  get a fast understanding of what a company did (as he worked with many departments, often having developed the applications they used himself in some kind of 4GL language during prior years). With the proliferation of standard ERP packages, 3 tier client-server, java and service oriented architectures, IT became more complex. More about technology and less about what the company did.Some may even argue that the worst culprit in this scenario was Java. Traditional 4GL’s and even COBOL aimed to be like plain English, so from using those languages to speaking to users in plain English about their business was not a big step for most IT folks., something that cannot be said for JAVA and it’s typical user.

Objects may appear further away
Now some of my observations may have been distorted because during the time I observed this chasm growing larger, I moved on the vendor side from marketing 4GL based MRP to Object Oriented ERP, to enterpriseintegration using XML and SOA and more recently to IT management technology. However, when speaking to former colleagues in the application space,they agree the profession has become more complex and more about technology. Sure they work with users everyday, but mainly to make them stick to agreed project plans and to make sure they adhere to the predefined workings of the selected standard packages, often not to invent new creative ways to do something completely differently (although many of them would love to).

Another testament to this mind boggling increase in complexity is the fact that the IT management industry (the solutions needed to manage IT itself) has surpassed the application industry (the solutions used to manage business processes) in revenue about a decade ago. Companies are now spending more money on keeping It running then on doing business things with IT. A weird and worrying statistic. The cloud now however has the potential to change this. Both because of the abstraction from the technology that cloud, virtualization and it it’s sibling technologies can deliver, but also because  enterprises are starting to realize they need to take a distinctly different, more business outcome oriented approach to managing cloud IT than what became standard for managing traditional IT. As described in other articles I see a big role for a supply chain approach to managing IT as this will free up in-company IT talent to truly engage in business matters again.

Time to choose sides?
So, If you are currently on the business side you may - with the services companies deliver to their customers becoming more and more digital (in telecoms, media, finance, government, education, etc. etc.) consider letting more IT people into your ranks. Never mind we talk funny and have a bad hairday every day  - to name a few stereotypes. With your business becoming more about shipping bits instead of atoms to customers now is a good time to start adding more IT skills to your team (if only to keep your rogue innovators productive).

If your currently on the IT side you may want to read this thought provoking in-depth study on The Future of Corporate IT.  I came across in this blog, which is from a think tank consulting firmcalled the “corporate executive board”. In their five-year outlook for corporate IT they come to some astonishing conclusions: “The IT function of 2015 will bear little resemblance to its current state.  Many activities will devolve to business units, be consolidatedwith other central functions such as HR and Finance, or be externally sourced. Fewer than 25% of employees currently in IT will remain, while CIOs face the choice of expanding to lead a business shared service group, or seeing their position shrink to managing technology delivery”.Funny how that all started more then 25 years ago.

This blog was originaly published at ITSMPortal.com

More Stories By Gregor Petri

Gregor Petri is a regular expert or keynote speaker at industry events throughout Europe and wrote the cloud primer “Shedding Light on Cloud Computing”. He was also a columnist at ITSM Portal, contributing author to the Dutch “Over Cloud Computing” book, member of the Computable expert panel and his LeanITmanager blog is syndicated across many sites worldwide. Gregor was named by Cloud Computing Journal as one of The Top 100 Bloggers on Cloud Computing.

Follow him on Twitter @GregorPetri or read his blog at blog.gregorpetri.com

@CloudExpo Stories
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
"Cloud computing is certainly changing how people consume storage, how they use it, and what they use it for. It's also making people rethink how they architect their environment," stated Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, will present several current, end-user environments that are using object storage at scale for cloud deployments including private cloud and cloud providers. Details on the top considerations of features and functions for selecting object storage will be included. Brad will also touch on recent developments in tiering technologies that deliver single solution and an end-user view of data across files and objects...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors!
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
JETRO showcased Japan Digital Transformation Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo® at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
"We view the cloud not as a specific technology but as a way of doing business and that way of doing business is transforming the way software, infrastructure and services are being delivered to business," explained Matthew Rosen, CEO and Director at Fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), held June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...