How CIOs cope when mobile app development goes rogue

Business units often develop mobile apps on their own, turning to IT only when things go wrong. Better governance around business units and their mobile app demands can help alleviate the worst pain points.

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As organizations rush to establish a coveted mobile presence, business units are developing and deploying apps on their own, and that means IT departments are facing a whole new era of shadow IT. In fact, research firm Gartner predicts that, by 2020, 70% of mobile apps used within the enterprise will be created or adopted without IT's involvement.

The fact that so many mobile apps are developed outside of IT might seem like a blessing to overworked tech departments already facing lengthy lists of mission-critical tasks. But the situation rarely translates into fewer headaches for the tech team. In fact, outside development can cause a host of problems to land on IT's doorsteps.

The potential problems with rogue mobile apps can go well beyond simply taxing IT's time. Analysts say such apps could introduce infrastructure security risks if not configured and integrated properly. Similarly, such apps could put data at risk by not sufficiently protecting it from loss or theft.

They also could add costs and inefficiencies to the organization if (a) different departments contract for the same services, (b) business sponsors fail to consider maintenance needs as well as integration requirements when launching pet apps, (c) they develop and deploy poor-quality apps that then fall back to IT to fix, or (d) all of the above.

"Business units wanting to build applications can be a positive thing, because it shows that organizations are forward-thinking and using mobile to innovate and transform their business. But IT has to be involved," says Gartner analyst Jason Wong.

Just how should IT be involved? Read on for advice from CIOs and other tech leaders who've successfully wrapped their arms around mobile application development inside -- and outside -- of IT.

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