Will cloud PLM go shadow?

Will cloud PLM go shadow?

plm-shadow-it

If you are not familiar with the term “Shadow IT”, you better do. The term is not completely new. Wikipedia article provides definition and speaks about different aspects of shadow IT activities. Interesting enough it has both negative and positive aspects. While (in general) usage of non-approved by IT applications is not a good things, it provoke innovation and overall tech progress.

Shadow IT is a term often used to describe IT systems and IT solutions built and used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval. It is also used, along with the term “Stealth IT,” to describe solutions specified and deployed by departments other than the IT department. Shadow IT is considered by many an important source for innovation and such systems may turn out to be prototypes for future approved IT solutions. On the other side, shadow IT solutions are not often in line with the organization’s requirements for control, documentation, security, reliability, etc., although these issues can apply equally to authorized IT solutions.

Lately, the wide spread of SaaS application created a new dangerous trend in the development of shadow IT. At the same time, it introduced a new opportunity for innovation. My attention  caught the article speaking about research McAfee did together with Frost & Sullivan- The Hidden Truth Behind Shadow IT. You can download research here. It provides some very interesting numbers about adoption and usage of non-approved SaaS applications.

non-approved-app-usage

It is not surprising, but IT people itself are representing a significant portion of non-approved SaaS applications usage. Also, not very surprising the categories of applications.

types-of-non-approved-app-usage

Nevertheless, I found the follow passage the most important. The reason for high interested in SaaS application fast adoption is the fact they people just want to get a job done. For most of them IT approval is an overhead and extra work. 

What drives employees to “go rogue”? Is it boredom? Restless energy? A desire to rebel? Alas, the truth is less romantic. It turns out users overwhelmingly turn to non-approved apps for one reason: they need to get their jobs done. As shown in Figure 3 below, the top drivers cited by both LoB and IT respondents are related to gaining access to the right tools, fast. Nearly half of respondents indicate a comfort level with their preferred software package. While whimsical personal preferences may play a role, it is equally likely that respondents’ familiarity with a package means they can avoid a learning curve and thus get their work done more quickly. Users also cite slow approval processes for new software, and inadequacies of “approved” software.

So, here is the question – what does it mean for future of cloud PLM? Usually, product lifecycle management programs are going through long process of evaluation, approval and implementation. I can see two potential scenarios in which cloud PLM activities can go shadow. First one is related to  activity driven by departments and/or divisions. At the time, department finds difficult to get everybody aligned, implementation of cloud PLM can be a good alternative to have usage and get job done. Another one is individual productivity and cross company usage. Think about supply chain scenarios, for example. In the case BOM planner can achieve better collaboration with other suppliers, he can decide to use cloud PLM without getting company and IT aligned.

What is my conclusion? I want to differentiate PLM business strategy and PLM software. Business strategy requires alignment, planning and getting everybody on board. The situation is different with PLM software. In my view, it should be first about getting job done. Today’s perception of PLM software to be slow, complicated and expensive. Cloud is going to change that. In the past, popular  software was very often stolen. In the world of SaaS, non-approved and free software is probably a good starting point for future success. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Colin Bull

    The problem with this approach is that yes the part / department is able to get their job done, but this leads to the age old problem of Silos of automation and information within the organisation. Not exactly an overall business strategy.

  • Colin Bull

    Forgot to add, it is the Job of CIO’s and IT to ensure that they have the processes and governance to be agile enough to meet the needs of the business.

  • beyondplm

    Colin, You are right! This is CIO job. However, the reality is different and I’ve seen it in many companies. -Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Colin, yes – silos are disadvantages. But this is a situation we have in almost every company today. Even more – many companies consider functional organization as a way to run development processes. The alternative is to create single way to keep data and communication with the right context.

  • Colin Bull

    It is up to the CIO and the product directors to define an agile way of working to be able to quickly adopt a working method that a tool (SAAS) or otherwise provide and look at the current and future roadmap of the strategic application landscape to see if the gap ( which is why they are using shadow) can be plugged in the near medium or long term.

  • beyondplm

    Agree.

  • Colin, agree but in most organizations this doesn’t happen fast enough because of program and budget priorities. That’s how Shadow IT takes power and things like Dropbox get a lot of traction… It’s certainly a tough dilemma, and often a fact of life these days.