Robidus' CTO Sylvester Bos Grabs Shadow IT by the Horns

“I think I am quite ready for another adventure” - Bilbo Baggins (Fictional Hobbit). An awesome quote but maybe you’d like some context with it? This was how Sylvester Bos, CTO at Robidus began his presentation at our recent No-Code for IT Leaders event in Alkmaar. Similar to many other companies out there, Robidus faced an uphill battle against shadow IT. Having seen enough, Sylvester went on a quest for a solution!


Reshaping Shadow IT

Sylvester’s role as CTO means that he is directly responsible for the longevity of Robidus’s application ecosystem. While investigating and unpacking the impact of shadow IT on their organization, Sylvester realized that solutions created by business developers would eventually make their way into ITs backlogs anyway. Why?

“Shadow IT doesn’t come out of nowhere. Unsanctioned applications or systems enter your business because someone out there needed a solution.”

Instead of trying to shut business developers out, he took on Betty Blocks in an effort to transform shadow IT into something which could be governed by IT. Combining citizen developers and their own IT professionals, Robidus began their journey to Mordor face their challenges head-on. Through a series of projects, they worked together to refine their strategy which would eventually pull business users into the company’s overall software goals.

Sylvester’s presentation included 2 customer cases that you can watch here (video is in Dutch). This joint effort between both worlds reduced the development and maintenance costs by up to 85% for both clients. While that’s extremely impressive, Sylvester got these results by investing time into perfecting his team and the governance structure between the different types of developers.   

Here’s what they learned along the way:

  • Existing architecture comes first: new solutions need to be designed around them, not the other way around. 
  • Project management is needed throughout: to allocate resources and help planning.
  • Governance is key: to ensure applications meet the company standards and keep communication streams open.
  • Align IT with the projects: Make sure developers understand the issues and can arrange their backlogs or tasks accordingly.

“Banning shadow IT efforts by force will not help your business move forward. Citizen developers are able to increase your development capacity by bridging the IT/business gap.” - Sylvester Bos

Little things can speak volumes

Just like Bilbo Baggins, it's the unexpected things have the most impact. Sylvester really struck a chord during his presentation with a really simple but unforeseen phrase (for an IT minded individual). When discussing their core software and innovation goals, Sylvester spoke about his department’s focus on time to value when creating solutions. What does that mean? 

Software projects are normally driven by time to market, a subtle but extremely impactful difference. Rather than just creating solutions, Sylvester is always thinking one step further about how and when their projects will generate a return on investment for the company.

Even at the highest level of IT, this kind of thinking is generally left up to the business to market or use technology to generate revenue. Now though, low- or no-code technologies are bringing business and IT much closer together than they’ve ever been. This is extremely clear in Robidus’ case, where they’ve successfully created a system through which their departments are embracing the priorities or thought processes of different business units.

That’s a lot to take away from just a single phrase, but these subtle shifts in how modern enterprises work will become gradually more abundant as time goes on. Who knows, maybe it’s only a matter of time until the only real difference between the business and IT is the code they choose to use?

Wouldn’t that be cool!

Watch Sylvester’s presentation online

Dutch Overload Warning! If you’re interested in hearing the whole story and learning more about Sylvester’s great adventure then you can watch his presentation on our youtube channel. The slides are in English but Sylvester will be speaking in Dutch. It’s worth a watch either way :)

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