Enterprise SaaS Management: An Imperative for the Modern CIO

There’s a SaaS solution for every business need.

Today, there’s an enterprise SaaS management solution for virtually every business need: CRM, collaboration, design, file sharing, video conferencing, contract and document management and more. This is true across all industries: tech, healthcare, food and agriculture, transportation—you name it.

  • An average of 129 applications are in use for every company, and that only takes into account apps that use Okta’s single sign-on.
  • Netskope reports the actual number to be 1,071 cloud services per company.

Overall, the growth of SaaS is a good thing for businesses. Employees have more options than ever for getting work done productively no matter where they are. The ever-growing trend shows us that the forward-thinking, modern CIOs who enable SaaS-forward environments want different business units to be agile, and we all know agility is a key component of today’s digital-forward company. SaaS makes work better and easier because it streamlines routine business processes and gives employees more tools for getting their work done.

Widespread SaaS deployments and nonstop growth can make life a drag for IT departments 

At the same time, the dependency on SaaS across industries makes life hard for IT departments. The amount of SaaS applications per company is tipping into the hundreds or even thousands, and in IT it’s not easy to gain any real insight into which apps are being used and how much. This problem makes it particularly challenging to rationalize application portfolio decisions or even explain the value of business apps to leadership in the first place 

What makes SaaS growth so difficult?

IT teams have no way to see all apps in one place or gauge their usefulness across departments. As lines of business and employees contribute to the ongoing SaaS explosion, IT can’t see which apps employees are using regularly. Apps that IT does manage don’t provide the data they need for gathering adoption and engagement insights. In fact, only 45% of IT executives are confident they know how many SaaS applications are in use at their companies (Pulse Q&A).

In addition, the constant barrage of renewals plus the lack of info to manage them effectively is frustrating. The organic, sprawling nature of SaaS purchasing means that renewals are happening all the time. To make matters worse, IT lacks information on application effectiveness, which makes it hard to prepare to talk about renewals.

Then there’s application redundancy, which is a problem because costs get out of control, plus people can’t collaborate easily between teams. Because SaaS applications tend to multiply without proper oversight from IT, redundancy is pretty high. It’s costly and employees can’t easily collaborate because they’re all using different tools. Meanwhile, IT doesn’t have the data to make informed decisions on which apps should be standardized. Also, most companies don’t know the size and contents of their SaaS deployment footprint. Basically, IT can’t justify application portfolios or easily manage costs. Yet, 97% of IT leaders see managing the cost and usage of SaaS applications as a top business priority (Pulse Q&A).

Administrative overhead gets to be too much, too. There are a handful of enterprise SaaS management solutions on the market now, but most don’t have the right feature set required for collecting true application engagement analytics. Businesses have to supplement this data with quite a bit of manual effort—56% of IT executives still rely on internal tools and manual spreadsheets to discover and manage SaaS applications (Pulse Q&A). Plus, management processes are handled on an app-by-app basis, which isn’t scalable.

Businesses need a better way to help IT manage SaaS portfolios. What IT departments really need is SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics.

How to standardize SaaS apps across your company, make sure people actually use them and cut costs at the same time:

The modern CIO wants to empower employees to work flexibly and dynamically. At the same time, they also want to make it easy to standardize SaaS applications across the company, make sure employees actually use those apps and get rid of anything unnecessary. Although enterprise SaaS management can be a headache, fortunately the CIO community is rising to the challenge and taking ownership of managing the SaaS portfolio.

CIOs at leading companies like Uber, Equinix, Fox and HashiCorp are accomplishing this goal using Productiv, SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics:

Let’s walk through the capabilities enterprise SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics can bring to your IT team:

  • Easily identify and manage your SaaS apps while keeping track of engagement data 

Gain visibility into all SaaS apps in one console and track renewal dates, adoption milestones and spend. Evaluate redundancy by looking at engagement instead of login data alone.

  • Determine whether your company is getting value from apps

Once you know the apps your company is using and can control licenses and spend, it’s way easier to get to the real value. Be the expert who helps your company capture the true value of your applications 

  •   Make real changes in your business by allowing IT to focus on innovating and strategic work.

 Your IT team can bring together the right mix of apps for your business while controlling licensing and costs at the same time. Find out where app redundancy exists across teams and figure out the best app combos for every department based on usage

Quick recap on why enterprise SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics is a need-to-have

To sum it up, SaaS apps are growing fast and so are business app portfolios. This means that IT leaders have to figure out a way to manage applications successfully. The key: SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics.

Looking for a better way to make SaaS apps work for you the way they should? Schedule a demo with Productiv and learn how to visualize, rationalize and maximize the value of your SaaS apps

Predictions: Enterprise SaaS in 2020

In 2019, SaaS applications continued to grow in popularity because of their scalability, ease-of-use, rich feature sets, and no need to rely on installing and running servers. When coupled with the fact that SaaS applications make it easier for employees to collaborate and do their jobs, it’s no wonder that the SaaS market is projected to be worth more than $120 billion in 2020. 

After working closely throughout 2019 with customers across every industry and identifying their most pressing SaaS application management needs, here are four of my predictions for the world of SaaS applications in 2020.

100% SaaS companies will no longer be an outlier

In 2019, there are companies (primarily in the technology industry) that are already 100% SaaS. These companies were born in the cloud, and in many cases were built to displace legacy technologies, which informed their software purchasing decisions. For example, they selected G Suite because it was much easier to operate than traditional, on-premises office applications, or selected Box because collaborating was easier and more cost-effective than with an on-premises server.

In 2020, we will see more of this, especially as generational changes continue to transform the workplace with leaders who ‘grew up’ with SaaS or started their careers in SaaS-first companies. Additionally, with the rise in SaaS-only companies, we will see more of them looking at how their employees are using SaaS. Before, IT leaders just wanted to know if employees were using specific applications. In 2020, the conversation will shift more toward how they are using these applications to get their work done and how business technology leaders can replicate that productivity across their entire workplace.

Acceptance of app sprawl means the death of the spreadsheet

App sprawl has always been an issue, as there are constantly new applications popping up that solve new business problems. The SaaS go-to-market model, where vendors market directly to business units and even sometimes to individual employees has exacerbated this. 

In 2020, enterprises will begin to think about solving the app sprawl problem organizationally vs. individually, looking at how the broader organization interacts with and uses SaaS applications. By analyzing employee engagement with applications, enterprises can identify cost savings, align the number of SaaS application licenses with the number of engaged users and optimize their application portfolio. This approach can save enterprises as much as 30% in costs – and that doesn’t even take into account the time otherwise spent managing perpetually incomplete spreadsheets and conducting surveys to measure application engagement and redundancy.

The new role of the CIO in the age of productivity

As more companies standardize on SaaS, IT will continue to evolve more into a proactive business partner vs. a reactive service provider. The IT organizations of yesterday weren’t called ‘help desks’ for no reason — IT was a place where people went when the software that they were provided wasn’t working. But the SaaS go-to-market model has upended this, and SaaS vendors now market directly to business units and end users. Because of this, when these business units or end users select SaaS applications, IT needs to partner with them to make sure that the SaaS application will work in the context of the business’ broader IT objectives and goals.  

The employee experience will be as important as the customer experience

There’s been a rise in marketing owning the customer experience, but more businesses are starting to focus on the employee experience. In many organizations, the CIO owns the employee experience. In 2020, we’ll see more businesses placing the same focus that they put on their customer experience back on their employees — and this will foster collaboration and increase productivity.  Progressive business technology leaders care about the employee experience, because they want to empower their employees with good technologies to help get the ‘lower level stuff’ done, freeing people to pursue more strategic business goals.