How to Overcome Shadow IT with Unified Communications

The Impact of Shadow IT

Shadow IT, information-technology systems and solutions used inside organizations without explicit approval, is a growing concern as it puts security and compliance at significant risk. While in many instances these solutions are used to increase productivity, IT leaders are struggling to manage the growing number of applications and their growing integration with corporate data and systems. All the while, they’re trying to accommodate the myriad of communications preferences across the business.

How Unified Communications Can Help

Dan Burkland, a contributor to CIO and president of cloud software provider Five9, suggests IT leaders take a new approach to reduce the impact of shadow IT by adopting unified communications (UC). He says, “add sanity to the otherwise communication anarchy by simplifying mediums, integrating communication platforms and consolidating channels when possible.” Of course, this won’t rid leaders of shadow IT entirely, but it can quickly reduce the competition when optimizing communication and maximizing the benefit of a single UC solution over others.

Burkland suggests three ways to start leveraging UC:

  1. Choose a UC provider that offers good functionality — Assess which tools your employees use the most and try to find a provider that can offer all the communications solutions they need. Look for interoperable solutions that keep employees in a native environment; this way they don’t have to operate with several different windows open. It’s key to implement solutions that are attractive enough that adding any other apps will seem unnecessary.
  2. Build automation into your UC channels — Sometimes, when using various applications and platforms, businesses can experience communications redundancy (for example, a communication that has to go out to customers may need to be duplicated in an internal channel). Redundant communications are hard to track and manage, so set yourself up for automating communications where needed by selecting agnostic UC solutions that can seamlessly integrate with other platforms and applications.
  3. Facilitate external collaboration — Consider how UC solutions can go beyond supporting internal communications and provide better service to customers and operational efficiency. For instance, if a customer is speaking with someone in your call center and they need to get additional information from a subject matter expert (SME), it’s far more helpful to simply add that SME to the line and get the answers in real time than to call the customer back. UC solutions can enable greater collaboration across your staff AND your customers, so seek UC that can integrate your communications with your call center, and even your CRM.

Ready to tackle shadow IT in your business? Read our article on how to align your organization with the right technologies to squash shadow IT.