I recently spoke to a crowd of professionals about \u201cShadow IT,\u201d and I couldn\u2019t stop picturing the\u00a0\u201cShadow Monster\u201d from Strangers Things. You know the big scary antagonist in the latest season of the Netflix\u00a0cult show. As I finished my talk I couldn\u2019t help but laugh \u2013 because \u201cShadow IT\u201d is nothing to be afraid of.So what is shadow IT?It\u2019s a term used to describe information technology systems and solutions used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval.\u00a0Despite its negative, chaotic connotation, shadow IT offers some of the most exciting\u00a0opportunities for startups and investors looking to power next generation business applications.\u00a0The opportunity behind shadow IT is an increasingly growing market that impacts every digital\u00a0transforming organization in the world.Bottom line: shadow IT is here to stay.Analyzing the causes of the rise of shadow IT has been a passion of mine for years. It\u2019s a\u00a0particularly interesting trend as we continue to move down the road of digital transformation in a\u00a0security conscious macro environment. All industries are rapidly evolving (or dying) due to\u00a0hyper-competition, low barrier to entry, and customer defection as a result of careless handling\u00a0of data breaches.But why now?\u00a0Shadow IT has reached a critical mass. In fact, a recent Gartner study states that over 50 percent of\u00a0enterprise application consumption is happening over uncontrolled and unaccounted for\u00a0sources. I see this in my world, where it seems like every team I talk to about is expensing 10,\u00a020, sometimes even 30 SaaS services on their VP\u2019s credit card! I don\u2019t blame them.\u00a0These teams are on the front lines waging a continuous battle where the customer gets what\u00a0they want or they move on. Teams can no longer rely on slow procurement processes from\u00a0central IT. We live in an \u201cevolve or die world\u201d \u2013 there are no points for second place.\u00a0Mainstream adoption of SaaS is driving the bus.SaaS models are the primary delivery mechanism for line of business applications and have\u00a0been a key factor in the emergence of shadow IT. While the more established SaaS platforms\u00a0have developed the necessary integration, security and compliance capabilities to be\u00a0considered IT-ready, many SaaS applications haven\u2019t achieved that level of enterprise\u00a0sophistication. As a result, central IT departments typically struggle to support those capabilities\u00a0using their existing frameworks and teams inside business units end up implementing their own\u00a0IT stacks, further distancing themselves from central IT.\u00a0Let\u2019s face it, the cloud has won.The explosion of cloud computing infrastructures led by Amazon has allowed teams toimplement custom solutions without requiring servers from IT departments. While most IT\u00a0departments have developed the expertise to manage cloud infrastructures, the knowledge\u00a0about application development best practices using platform as a service (PaaS) architectures\u00a0still remains new to those groups. DevOps is still a trade-craft. As a result, teams rarely rely\u00a0on IT departments for the implementations of custom cloud apps. Instead, they build or hire\u00a0external teams to assists with those efforts because their customer demands cannot wait for the\u00a0central organization to \u201cfigure it out.\u201d\u00a0Customers consume services on their mobile devices.\u00a0Together, with the rise of cloud development, mobile computing has been one of the\u00a0transformative movements in the recent history of software. With IT departments lacking the\u00a0skills to develop world-class mobile apps, teams turned to digital agencies or incubated special\u00a0operations teams to develop mobile apps for their partners and customers. Mobile app\u00a0development is another one of the factors that causes Shadow IT silos within larger companies.\u00a0Teams need modern technologies and IT talent.\u00a0The emergence of technology trends such as mobile, cloud, big data, and IoT have drastically\u00a0disrupted the skill sets required to build modern software apps. As a result, organizations have\u00a0developed internal teams or partnered with third party agencies in order to build modern\u00a0software applications because central IT managers and talent are not evolving fast enough.Enterprises have also seen a proliferation of mainstream cloud and mobile products being\u00a0adopted within different teams. This phenomenon known as the \u201cconsumerization of the\u00a0enterprise\u201d is a reflection of teams adopting consumer products to perform business activities.\u00a0How many employees are using personal SaaS products to take meeting notes at work?\u00a0Probably most. Since a large majority of mainstream consumer products are not supported by IT\u00a0organizations, many teams have developed their own mechanisms for implementing and\u00a0supporting those consumer solutions within their environment.The \u201cwe can\u2019t support that\u201d culture is self-defeating.\u00a0Change is scary. Central IT departments tend to challenge solutions that use new tech because\u00a0they are difficult to support. As a result, a large number of the software solutions developed by\u00a0IT organizations lack the innovation and flexibility of new technology stacks. To deal with that\u00a0challenge, teams have developed small teams with the right knowledge and expertise to support\u00a0modern software solutions.\u201cBecause of all of these issues, shadow IT has become a permanent piece of every modern organization; like the pyramids in Egypt that still\u00a0stand \u2013 forever in time.\u201dI always explain it like this to customers: think of shadow IT not as a problem, but as an opportunity. Shadow IT unlocks new opportunities for long-term strategy because it catalyzes\u00a0the entrepreneurial talent and spirit hidden deep in the company and brings teams and\u00a0customer requirements front and center.Shadow IT was the catalyst for the adoption of the things which make our world what it is today:\u00a0cloud, mobile and big data technologies. It is forcing central IT groups to change; to rapidly\u00a0build up necessary skill sets and to create new solutions to support the new wave of business\u00a0solutions.As a result, we are just now seeing very innovative solutions from central IT groups in key\u00a0areas:Compliance and security: The emergence of shadow IT has flipped the security space upside down, and has challenged IT groups with a new set of scenarios they weren\u2019t\u00a0exposed to before. As a result, the most forward thinking IT groups have implemented\u00a0new, simple and lighter security models that interoperate well in the mobile and cloud\u00a0world.I hear about this all the time when discussing source code security and shifting left. By bringing central IT and teams together into a single platform to manage software code, compliance is met and speed retained. Everyone wins.Integrations: Shadow IT has blown up the number of integration combinations available\u00a0in the enterprise. As a result, some of the most advanced IT groups have rapidly\u00a0adapted innovative technologies like integration platform as a service (iPaaS) such as\u00a0Mulesoft, to better support line of business requirements. Use of single-sign-on (SSO)\u00a0and central authentication (CA) mechanisms is growing and helping to solve long\u00a0standing issues in the enterprise \u2013 all catalyzed due to shadow IT.Integrations matter. A central platform that securely connects to all of your team\u2019s integrations but meets stringent security compliance standards makes a world of sense. From a data security perspective if all your projects and integrations are visible behind a\u00a0single pane of glass it is much easier to meet auditors needs.Ops Analytics: The adoption of ultra-modern tech by teams has challenged some of the\u00a0legacy enterprise monitoring platforms. As a result, IT groups have adopted the new generation of application performance monitoring solutions that are designed to operate in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.From New Relic for performance monitoring to the vast area of tools in the security incident and event management (SIEM) space with the likes of Threat Stack, operational\u00a0analytics has boomed, giving enterprises efficiency and insights miles ahead of what was present even five years ago.Mobility: There is no doubt that the rise of shadow IT has forced organizations to develop the necessary skill sets to support and implement mobile apps. Considering that mobile-first is becoming the new standard for enterprise solutions, that can hardly be seen as a bad thing.Security has always been struggling to keep up with BYOD and the uncontrolled consumer device environment. In my conversations I see the rapid pivot to mobile-first as having created strong innovation around solving those mobile security challenges in the enterprise-ensuring all employees are more secure at work.I work with customers every day to map out the \u201cwhy, what and how\u201d of managing and adapting to the world of shadow IT \u2013 it\u2019s not about competing but collaborating.Leaders should ask their CIOs these questions:Why are our team\u2019s choosing alternatives?Measurable business benefits of changeBusiness case for changeWhat is needed to be internally competitive?Technology changeOrganizational changePeople, skills and process changeHow do we stay ahead?Building a strategy and road map for the futureImplementing the right people\/skills and processMeasuring successIn the end, internal teams will always choose the services that best meet their needs and cause them the least amount of pain, be it financial or operational. Working to become your company\u2019s\u00a0internal preferred service provider for security, Speed will likely take time and resources, but in\u00a0the long run, it can mean the difference between a role as a strategic partner to the business or\u00a0the eventual extinction of the IT department as an antiquated cost center.