Thursday, May 21, 2015

From the IT shadows

Today’s guest blog comes from Brandon Williams, Director of Google Operations for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology. Brandon is responsible for supporting nearly 30,000 Colorado state employees using Google Apps for Government.

I recently wrote about fostering real government innovation in CIOReview — including the need to bring Shadow IT out of the shadows. I urged you to identify, and then embed, Shadow IT within your teams, and to shine the light on them…and give them air. Shadow IT will surprise and shock you when allowed to play, and you will learn from them.

In that article, I mentioned that Shadow IT are the “ones that make your security team shake like lab rats.” No doubt, they can bring security challenges. Here at the State of Colorado, however, Google Apps for Government gives us the freedom and tools we need to encourage them to explore, while simultaneously providing a secure environment for them in which to innovate.

One example of how we get at this balance surfaced after we used our Google control panel to run a report that identified all of the third party apps installed using our state accounts. We found 1,800 third party apps “in play.”

When we took a look at this, our first reaction was to shut down access. Then we paused, took a deep breath, and asked ourselves what were we really looking at? Threats? No. We were looking at our users giving us a report card. They liked for these apps to solve challenges. Challenges we had failed to see, anticipate and provide answers for yet. It was a report card.

As a result of the report, we decided to formalize Shadow IT — identifying and organizing them to help improve idea-sharing through the enterprise.

To learn more about how we did this with our Shadow IT, and the benefits realized because of this decision, check out my panel presentation on June 2 for #Atmosphere15 — Google for Work's largest digital event. This unique social experience explores creative ways to innovate and work together, and features speakers who’ve disrupted industries and inspired global change. Learn more and register for free here to take part — and to learn more about our Shadow IT revolution at the State of Colorado.

Brandon Williams
Director of Google Operations, OIT
On Twitter @bwwilliams
Brandon with the Google Atmosphere team at OIT headquarters

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