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3 Takeaways for IT from the 2022 Visibility and Impact Report

Has your IT department embraced, tolerated, or ignored the new normal? As new styles of work and collaboration have bloomed across industries from the onset of the pandemic, IT has had the difficult job of supporting a continuously complicating digital infrastructure. 

We partnered with Pulse to survey 100 technology executives to uncover how the pandemic has impacted their day-to-day work and IT strategies. While there’s a lot of data and insights to unpack, in this article, we’ll discuss three key takeaways that reveal the future of IT management.

>>> Read the full report here. <<<

Key Takeaway #1: Shadow IT is here to stay. 

The current workplace lacks two things: CD drives to install software, and time to ask IT for permission. The days of IT sanctioning each application employees use are gone. IT leaders should retire their thoughts of doing so with their dusty CD drives.

Shadow IT is no longer an occasional quirk; it’s a constant. Our study found that 52% of survey respondents found that individual employees were purchasing their own apps without IT’s knowledge. 

Jim in New Jersey is no longer asking Nick in North Dakota if his team can test Asana. The fast-paced nature of our current world of work pushes teams to look for any edge to make their daily workflows easier and more efficient. While Jim’s intent of improving his team’s efficiency is admirable, unsanctioned applications don’t become sanctioned from intent alone—and IT putting up roadblocks hasn’t helped curb their appeal. This tracks with our findings that 36% of respondents reporting the adoption of unsanctioned apps by line of business (LOB) managers. 

That also means that if Jim in New Jersey didn’t ask Nick in North Dakota, he also didn’t ask Tammy in Tennessee, who already uses Wrike with her team. Even worse is that Matt in Massachusetts just joined the company and he prefers Monday. Suddenly, three separate project management tools will be utilized across their organization—all out of the purview of Nick in North Dakota. With multiple redundant applications spread across the organization, costs and complexity build-up—all without IT’s knowledge. 

Unsanctioned applications can waste money, time, and the efforts of IT, with their impact only compounding as SaaS applications become easier to utilize. 

Fortunately, IT’s greatest tool in cutting waste is visibility. If an IT team has visibility of the applications their organization is utilizing, they can better reduce redundancies and waste, regain control over security vulnerabilities, and serve as the builders rather than the janitors of the tech stack that holds their organization together. 

This enables Shadow IT to shine as an indication of ingenuity across your organization, rather than a liability. Once IT departments shine a light on what lurks in the shadows, they can become the subject area experts to make great software decisions for their organization (more on that later). 

Key Takeaway #2: IT teams are stressing about security. 

Security has always been an important part of IT’s responsibilities, but hybrid work has altered its importance forever. New risks, due to remote and hybrid work environments, have created a minefield for IT departments to navigate. 

Our survey found that 55% of organizations reported lapsing security protocols since the start of the pandemic. 80% of those breaches were caused by applications adopted outside of IT’s purview. Our findings are striking but not surprising since many security issues stem primarily from an IT department’s visibility (or lack thereof) into their organization’s application usage. 

Without that visibility, IT leaders struggle to safely onboard and offboard employees. For example, remember Jim in New Jersey? He started utilizing Asana without talking to Nick or Tammy (from North Dakota and Tennessee, respectively). Turns out, Jim is moving to a different organization and while he might be taking his ergonomic backrest, he's leaving behind a security risk in the form of an Asana account that neither of them have access to (or possibly aren’t even aware exists). 

That’s a problem, especially when his browser auto-fills its credentials in two months and he has full access to his former organization’s data after his exit. This aligns with our findings that 59% of IT executives consider offboarding and deprovisioning ex-employees “a top security concern.” 

In the cloud-first workplace, traditional security tools aren’t enough to detect all the apps our teams adopt. Gone are the days of meeting by the Kombucha tap—the future of work is globalized, with teammates working together across continents from the comfort of their couch with their hybrid teammates. SaaS applications that aid in asynchronous collaboration are like catnip to hybrid teams—and their only monitoring could amount to their cat sleeping beside them. 

Without the proper tools, IT can get stuck in a game of cat and mouse during onboarding and offboarding

IT team’s are looking to their Identity Access Management (IAM) or Single Sign-On (SSO) platforms to provision and deprovision access to critical applications. But, IAM and SSO tools can’t track unsanctioned app usage. 

Our study found that 90% of respondents reported using IAM or SSO specifically to reduce exposure to security threats. While these applications aid in ensuring that the security of sanctioned applications improves, they don’t account for Shadow IT. 

With that in mind, IT needs a more comprehensive toolbox to secure their tech stack, improve onboarding and offboarding, and improve their vision of what Shadow IT creeps in the corners of their organization’s home offices. 

The good news? There’s no better time for IT to add x-ray vision to their set of superpowers. 

Key Takeaway #3: Now’s the time for IT to shine. 

Are you recognized for your work? 

Our research showed that 85% of IT teams feel that the changes due to the pandemic have increased the company's visibility of IT contributions. That visibility has come with some perks, with 44% reporting an increased budget allocation. 

With newfound recognition and resources, this is IT’s opportunity to grow as leaders at their organization—solve the systemic issues their organizations face and earn recognition for doing more impactful work than just solving tickets. 

This is an opportunity for IT leaders to have their long-deserved seat at the decision-making table while giving their team a greater sense of purpose—leading to more engaging work and an increase in employee retention (a substantial need during this “Great Resignation”). 

If there was ever a time for IT leaders to consider their SaaS Management strategy and invest in tools that enable them to improve their efficiency, it’s now—as their objectives are directly tied to the success of their organization as they transition to the future of work. 

That consideration needs to start now (or even one year ago) to tame the growing beast that is SaaS application adoption, as 94% of survey respondents expect the number of SaaS apps in their company to continue to increase in the next two years. 

There is no team better poised to be software experts at your organization than your IT department—you know that, they know that, and according to our survey, your organization most likely knows that too. 

Unfortunately, without a way to easily visualize, provision, and scale your sanctioned and unsanctioned tech stack—you’re setting yourself up for a frustrating future. It’s time to consider a solution that helps your team lead rather than react to the manner in which their organization adopts technology. 

Conclusion

So what’s the solution? To put it simply: shine a light on what lurks in the shadows. 

IT leaders are coming to terms with the idea that Shadow IT isn’t a bug, but a feature—and an opportunity has entered their inbox: Leverage the ingenuity of your cross-functional teammates. 

You can transform the function of an IT department from plugging gaps in an impenetrable wall to being drivers towards software innovation. 

Your IT department can lead the security, efficiency, and operations of their organization. But, that’s only possible if they have the visibility into true, real-time data on how their organization is using SaaS applications. 

Enter: SaaS Management Platforms. 

SaaS Management is the act of managing and tracking all cloud applications used within an organization. While many singular tools, such as SSO/IAM platforms, help in managing SaaS applications—a true SaaS Management Platform is a centralized system that acts as the beating heart of your organization’s SaaS operations. It can help improve and automate onboarding and offboarding, discover which sanctioned and unsanctioned tools are being used by employees, monitor spending across your organization, and run complex IT-specific automations that help aid your team in their day-to-day.

SaaS Management is a blossoming industry as IT leaders realize they need to tame the power of their software with software. Excel sheets and notepads are no longer a sustainable option when you’re managing the application usage of a fast-growing, hybrid workforce. Many organizations have started looking to SaaS Management Platforms to give them better visibility, greater control, and enable them to be the executive leaders at their organization they’re now expected to be. 

64% of survey respondents stated that they’re in the process of or planning to evaluate or deploy SaaS Management tools (with 16% stating they’re already utilizing them). 

When considering SaaS Management solutions, you want to ensure you’re investing in an all-encompassing tool that empowers your team to adapt to Shadow IT, improve your security, and uncover the data you need to make the right decisions quickly. 

Luckily, we know a platform that does all of that and more (spoiler alert: it’s us). The Torii Platform is the most comprehensive way to better understand your organization’s SaaS usage and act swiftly with that information. In fact, our customers have discovered that the number of SaaS apps in use at their organization is 3x higher than they initially thought. 

The time is now to direct the transformation of IT. No more reaction-based-responses. 

Instead, leverage the visibility and prestige your IT team has garnered throughout the pandemic and preemptively solve the frustrations of the future. 

Interested in learning more about what we heard from the 100 IT leaders we surveyed? Read the full 2022 Visibility and Impact Report here. 

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