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I recently authored a new study around some interesting findings from IDC’s CloudTrack survey, which examines every facet of the enterprise cloud IT end-user experience. My thoughts turned to the midmarket, which is consuming cloud IT at a fast pace, often at the Line of Business (LOB) level. LOB decision makers and users have harnessed cloud applications and infrastructure as a means to drive agility and competitive advantage within their department. In many cases, LOB decision-making runs in parallel to IT’s formalized efforts; many LOB users cite a lack of agility, modernization, and flexibility when following the age-old paradigm of IT-led technology deployments. The result has been substantial growth in the depth and breadth of the SMB cloud IT market.

However, these organic developments have not been without unexpected consequences.

According to IDC’s anecdotal interviews with customers, uncovering unsanctioned ‘shadowIT can represent a 3 or 4x increase in the number of known Software as a Service (SaaS) apps in-use in a given organization. This ‘app sprawl’ often results in security issues and the need for IT to redeploy its capabilities to support, manage, and secure these unknowns. On the other hand, a positive result is that IT is now willing to embrace a growing preference for deploying cloud IT, often as a way to reduce time-consuming problematic capabilities.

The net result is a trend towards LOB holding budgetary authority for IT needs, along with a growing role in project definition, yet in partnership with IT. I think that this will continue to shift towards LOB as IT budgetary authority continues to rest with LOB and project scoping, and vendor selection and management becomes more automated at the vendor and/or partner level, particularly with those customers that use IT as a means to increase competitive advantage.

IT suppliers need to note that the role of IT is transitioning, even in the SMB space. According to IDC SMB case study work, many midmarket CIOs are starting to partner with LOB in a stakeholder-driven mobile-centric project scoping and management process. Mobility has become a way for many CIOs and IT department heads to maintain organizational influence as more LOB departments driven their own IT presences.

Chris Chute VP of IDCChris Chute is a Vice President with IDC’s Small and Medium Business Practice, providing strategic guidance to IT vendors and buyers regarding the development and deployment of cloud and mobile IT solutions. Mr. Chute’s research often centers on market disruption, such as the impact of hosted applications and infrastructure on small and medium business IT consumption, and how BYOD has reshaped IT policy requirements. Follow Chris on Twitter: @chrischute

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