Corona forces us into the home office and the fight begins: VPN, Citrix and three times login! Now comes an error message! What is this? Call to IT support: No success!

Unfortunately, this exaggerated situation is often not an isolated case! Companies have poor IT infrastructure, which doesn’t allow employees to work meaningfully. The consequence is often that teams acquire their own private infrastructure. This is called Shadow IT and has been booming again since Corona!

Shadow IT

The term shadow IT describes IT systems that are used in the specialist departments or individual employees of a company in addition to the official IT infrastructure and without the knowledge of the IT department.

According to a survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of McAfee, 500 IT managers and more than 250 employees in companies in Germany were interviewed. More than half of the managers surveyed say that shadow IT exists in the company. Nearly 40% of employees also admit to using their own cloud services.

The main causes, in my experience, are the long deployment process of THE IT departments, cost savings and decisions for the wrong software tool and poor configuration of the tools.

Examples of shadow IT that I often experience are:

  • Own server for video conference
  • Own time recording
  • Office365
  • Own Jira Server
  • Own file sharing platform


Shadow IT carries risks of data protection and can make IT decentrally and no longer controllable in the company. It is the consequence when companies build a less meaningful IT architecture and let teams work remotely. Especially since the cloud, software often costs no more than 10 euros per month for private users and can therefore be quickly rented for the job by almost every employee. The temptation is great and companies can simply tackle it: buy and set up proper software! Employees can’t solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s software!

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Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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