19 November 2019

Research pick: The shadowy world of information technology - "The growing impact of Shadow IT on higher education"

Educational institutions such as universities have for years battled against the rise of “Shadow” Information Technology, software and hardware that their users, whether student or educator, might bring to the establishment and us in conjunction with or instead of on-site equipment controlled by the IT department at the institution.

This shadowy world is a double-edged sword for the institution. On one hand, it means that staff and students can use the equipment and software with which they are familiar to fulfill their respective roles, but on the other, the institution’s IT department has no control on such hardware and software which might represent a security and/or safety risk to other users and the services the IT department provides.

Owen Hall of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, USA, writing in the International Journal of Information Systems and Management, explains the quandary facing educational establishments and offers a hybrid view that allows user and establishment to utilize Shadow IT, such as personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones and associated software and applications without compromising safety and security. Indeed, such an ameliorating approach might ultimately benefit the institution by reducing the overall burden on IT resources provided the risks are acknowledged and taken into consideration in allowing users to work in the shadows, as it were.

He concludes that constant vigilance and awareness are key to success with such a hybrid approach to IT use but conversely represent the greatest challenge. Moreover, it is critical to educate end-users to the putative problems of their using shadow IT and to demonstrate how resources provided by the university information systems organization might be just as useful to them in their endeavours within the academic world.

Hall Jr., O.P. (2019) ‘The growing impact of Shadow IT on higher education’, Int. J. Information Systems and Management, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.1–16.

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