Proper SaaS and cloud management is key to a well-oiled digital workplace

Given the businesses’ digital transformation sprint has surpassed its peak, it’s important that they lay the groundwork towards long-term SaaS and cloud application management.
16 August 2021

Microsoft, the most well-known of digital creators for the workspace. Source: AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP)

  • Each new application connected to the corporate network – be it cloud, hybrid, or on-premises – represents a potential security vulnerability
  • Enterprises need to carefully roll out cloud and SaaS apps, mainly if they’re replacing an app currently in use
  • Business evolution will continue no matter the climate, and the importance of cloud-based SaaS will only grow with it

Many businesses didn’t have a remote-ready IT strategy in place when Covid-19 first hit — placing enterprise leaders and IT teams in a rather reactive spot. Now, as the landscape is evolving again for a post-pandemic world, an age of hybrid remote working is dawning upon us. With that said, the en masse adoption of SaaS platforms and cloud apps by global businesses that started in earnest in 2020, is anything but slowing down.

What is alarming is the condensed timeline for tech rollouts. It has started to take a toll on workforces as a Cornell University report shows 43% of workers reported spending too much time switching between different tools, up to an hour a day in many cases. CIOs are so focused on making SaaS and cloud tools available to their employees, that they haven’t stopped to think about whether people want them.

First, what is SaaS?

As defined by TechRadar, SaaS is a cloud-based service where instead of downloading native software on a desktop PC or business network to run and update, instead an application is accessed via an internet browser. The software application could be anything from running office productivity software to unified communications tools — choosing from a wide range of  applicationss that are available.

Challenges in managing cloud apps

App management in the SaaS world isn’t necessarily more difficult than managing on-premise; however, what has changed is the increase in usage across all business lines. Many SaaS applications feature easy sign-ups and one-click setups, making it easy for the IT department to lose visibility and control over their cloud environment.

It is important to note that each new application connected to the corporate network – be it cloud, hybrid, or on-premises – represent a potential security vulnerability. Cloud apps can make it easy for cybercriminals to exfiltrate sensitive information or allow employees’ risky online behavior to persist. In short, lack of visibility is where shadow IT creeps into many corporate cloud environments.

However, according to CoreView senior vice president and chief evangelist Doug Hazelman, shadow IT is a finance issue as much as it is a security one. CIOs and finance leaders must be mindful that every app connected to the corporate network has a financial impact on the organization’s bottom line. “For example, usage of Microsoft Teams skyrocketed in 2020. Still, many IT leaders identified small pockets of resistance within their workforce because people were more comfortable with alternatives like Slack or Zoom. It’s ok for businesses to enable their employees to work with their preferred tools, provided CIOs know what apps are accessing corporate data and their costs,” he added.

Hazelman highlighted the “root cause of the majority of shadow IT is simple: employees aren’t happy with the company’s digital workplace tools. People don’t like change, and the last few years have been a seemingly unending transformation for workers.” He believes enterprises should understand this concept and carefully roll out cloud and SaaS apps, mainly if they’re replacing an app that is currently in use.

What is a good SaaS & cloud management?

A good SaaS management strategy, according to Hazelman, is to form a central digital workplace committee of multidisciplinary business leaders who are in agreement on what business applications are required to support their employees. “The committee’s singular focus should be to deliver applications that are easy to use and help people with their day-to-day jobs,” he said, adding that the only way to gain wholesale buy-in for new tools and apps is to make sure people need them. 

When a business’ digital transformation trajectory is maturing, it’s important to lay the groundwork for long-term SaaS and cloud application management. Basically, enterprises must gain visibility over their cloud infrastructure to properly manage their cloud environments. Without it, Hazelman reckons it is simply too easy for departments or individuals to derail sound SaaS management strategies.