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The study shows companies don't have coherent strategies for dealing with shadow IT (Photo: Host Europe)

The growing move toward cloud-based computing is an enabler for shadow IT, according to a new study.

In a March poll conducted by NTT Communications, 77 pc of decision makers in large UK, French, Spanish and German companies said they had witnessed instances of business areas obtaining cloud services without involvement of the IT department.

And 83 pc said they expected further proliferation of shadow IT in their companies.

The study found that business departments tend to be aware that unauthorized use of cloud-based products goes against company rules. Only one in five of the executives polled said he was unaware of such guidelines.

The reasons why shadow IT is growing is clear: According to the poll, more than 60 pc of decision-makers not working in the IT department said unauthorized cloud services could boost productivity and efficiency.

Popular shadow-IT products include Google Drive, Dropbox and Apple's iCloud, which are all used to share company information. If they wouldn't be using such services, 77 pc of the decision makers said the functioning of their departments would suffer.

"The most important question at the moment is clearly not how companies can promote the use of cloud soluttions, said Len Padilla, vice president product strategy at NTT Communications in Europe. "Rather it is how to manage the use of them."

Padilla said in a press statement that both IT and business units are recognizing the advantages of cloud-based systems and applications. But, said Padilla, "Many IT departments haven't yet found a good way to properly manage the situation."

NTT Communications polled 500 executives for the research.

Following are the 10 key findings from the poll:

1.  More than seven out of 10 decision makers said they had used a third-party cloud application without the approval or knowledge of their IT departments

2.  More than six in 10 business respondents are aware of other departments within their organization using cloud applications without informing their IT departments

3.  Eight out of 10 believe that Shadow IT will increase over the next two years

4.  More than half of all respondents do not know which country their cloud based data is stored in

5.  Users are aware they are breaking IT guidelines and mostly do this in full knowledge.

6.  The main drivers for shadow IT are increased efficiency, increased productivity and the perception that it frees up the IT department's time

7.  Free, unregulated cloud storage applications such as Google Drive Dropbox and Apple iCloud are most popular for sharing company information

8.  Seven out of 10 believe that the use of free cloud storage will increase over the next two years

9.  Eight in 10 respondents believe that their data stored in the cloud is critical to the running of their department

10. Nearly eight in 10 believe that withdrawal of shadow IT cloud services would limit their department’s functionality