IT leaders have long decried technology deployed outside of their purview as the bane of their existence. This so-called shadow IT spurred heated arguments between CIOs who believed it was incumbent on them to lock down tech and business-line leaders who believed it was their right to buy or build software to support their work.
But the tide is turning for notable reasons. First, the rise of low-code and other automation tools that help “citizen developers” build applications is democratizing software development beyond IT’s control. Second, supporting this cohort of business technologists rather than cracking down on them can help lighten IT’s workload, which has grown unwieldy with the acceleration of digital business imperatives.
When lines of business buy or build their own technology, it provides a kind of “pressure-release valve” that helps reduce the number of projects overstuffing IT’s pipelines, says Lenovo CIO Art Hu. The do-it-yourself trend also suggests that IT may not be doing everything it can to support the business, says Hu, who has reckoned with everything from unsanctioned cloud instances to marketing websites. “If the business has needs that IT wasn’t able to meet in time, then they are compelled to get something else,” Hu tells CIO.com.
The numbers favor DIY tech
As a result, tech chiefs seem increasingly willing to welcome this era of “business-led IT.” Up to 80% of technology products and services will be built by non-tech professionals, with total business-led IT spend commanding up to 36% of the total IT budget, according to Gartner analyst Rajesh Kandaswamy. “These buyers’ needs do not always fit neatly into offerings from traditional providers,” Kandaswamy says. And CEOs who view new digital business opportunities as a “team sport” are largely okay with this work happening outside the purview of IT, Kandaswamy adds.