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Limit ‘Shadow IT’ with Custom App Development

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James DeHoniesto
Director of Business Tech Optimization SSD Technology Patners

In one of his more popular compositions, the legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller advised: “Find out what they like, and how they like it, and let “˜em have it just that way.” The song is nearly 100 years old by now, but the message applies to the software needs of today’s workforce.

When employees can’t work efficiently due to limitations of business software, they are quick to turn to cloud-based alternatives. The problem is that this process often takes place without the knowledge or sanction of IT. Some surveys indicate that as many as 80 percent of U.S. knowledge workers are using non-approved apps in their jobs. The result is a “shadow IT” environment that is virtually impossible to track and manage – and it is creating a significant security threat.

Your solution could be a custom application development process that allows you to identify users’ needs and rapidly build and deploy apps that precisely meet their requirements.

While cloud apps offer undeniable benefits, problems arise when employees select consumer-grade solutions that don’t provide robust security or meet regulatory requirements. These apps not only create potential entry points for security threats, they also increase the risks that outgoing traffic will create data leaks. Without adequate controls, sensitive data and intellectual property may be exposed in the public cloud.

While most organizations understand the risk of unauthorized cloud apps, studies indicate they woefully underestimate the size of the problem. According to a recent survey from the Cloud Security Alliance, security teams, on average, estimate their organizations are using 179 cloud applications. However, researchers found that, in reality, an average of 788 cloud apps were in use.

The first thing organizations ought to do is conduct an honest evaluation of why users are looking to the cloud for answers. Are your legacy applications and processes too cumbersome with too many shortcomings to meet modern workloads? Does it take too long to identify and deploy new applications that could be more useful?

Purpose-built applications that support workers needs rather than forcing them to modify their processes to accommodate software limitations can help keep employees from looking for a cloud-based alternative. That means your employees can work better, faster and smarter without having to sidestep IT controls to do it.

You can still leverage the scalability benefits of storing application data in the cloud. Custom apps allow you to boost security with access controls that restrict who can access that data. Encryption features further secure data and prevent data leakage in the cloud.

Custom apps can create possibilities for better data integration and analytics, as well.  Capturing data from multiple sources can give you better insight into your organization. The ability to track key performance indicators across multiple variables allows you gauge project success in ways that wouldn’t be possible with ad-hoc cloud apps.

Application development may not be a core skillset in your organization, however. If you lack the expertise, time or resources to take on such a project, give us a call. SSD has built a team dedicated to developing custom applications that help our customers streamline business processes and improve workflows. We can help you reduce your company’s dependency on shadow IT while giving your employees just what they like, when they like it.


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James DeHoniesto

James has worked in IT for over 25 years. He is focused on Cyber Security and Business Technology Optimization (BTO) for SSD Technology Partners headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. James’ goal is to ensure SSD’s clients secure their environments using practical application of current technologies and raising overall awareness of existing security risks. He also helps organizations identify the most effective technology strategies they should pursue to meet their overall business objectives utilizing existing IT resources. Leading the Custom Development team at SSD allows him the opportunity to ensure business applications are focused on user experiences while maintaining a level of security commonly overlooked when custom software is created.

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