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10 Surprising Stats From the 2020 State of SaaSOps Report

Megan Bozman

October 28, 2020

4 minute read

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To learn more about the state of SaaS and SaaSOps, BetterCloud recently surveyed nearly 700 IT leaders and practitioners from a wide range of company sizes and industries. This is the largest body of data ever assembled on how modern IT organizations deal with the challenges of managing SaaS at scale. We think the report will help provide the needed data-driven insights into how and why IT organizations are leveraging SaaSOps tools and methods.

The full report is worth carving out some time to read. But here are 10 findings from the report that took many of us by surprise.

SaaSOps impacts the business far beyond IT

Among the many motivations to use more SaaS, increased productivity and reduced costs are common.

However, respondents selected a variety of other drivers including growing revenues (10%), improving the employee experience (23%), and attracting and retaining the best talent (3%). One IT Director stated, “Enablement of SaaSOps in our environment is critical to the overall success of our company.”

The line between IT and security is blurring

45% of respondents say their department does both IT and security. The nature of SaaS has created a new set of security responsibilities for IT that didn’t exist before, including defending against insider threats, securing data, and enforcing least-privileged access policies.

Rapid growth in SaaS is continuing

SaaS apps have provided a critical lifeline for businesses caught in the fallout from a global pandemic.

Survey respondents reported an average of 80 SaaS apps in use, compared to just 16 apps in 2017 and eight in 2015. This is a 5x increase since 2017, and a 10x increase since 2015.

But rather than having plateaued, the rate of this growth is expected to persist. These companies also tell us that 70% of the business apps they use today are SaaS-based. By 2025, they expect that to rise to 85%.

Adoption of SaaS apps rises, then falls

Young companies (one to two years old) start with 29 apps on average. By the time they’re three to six years old, that number spikes to 103.

The number comes down after that, likely because of consolidation. Companies that have been in business for over 11 years have an average of 79 SaaS apps.

SaaSOps is a core IT discipline and career priority

IT organizations occupy a wide range of positions on an emerging SaaSOps tech maturity curve, with most (81%) using native admin consoles. SaaSOps also shapes how IT practitioners think about their skill sets, careers, and even job titles.

30% of respondents already use the term “SaaSOps” in their job title or plan to include it soon.

One IT manager stated, “SaaSOps and IT will be synonymous. There’s no separating the two already in most modern/young companies.”

Some organizations were already impressively agile

When asked to identify new priorities since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many organizations were in consensus about several things, such as using more video conferencing (54%) and securing their remote workplaces (55%).

However, 8% stated that they were making no changes in response to the pandemic because they had the necessary pieces in place. If you were among that group, hats off to you!

Motivations for using SaaS shift as companies age

For all survey respondents, the top two motivators for using more SaaS apps are to increase productivity and reduce costs. However, those motivators can change over time.

For example, companies newer to SaaS tend to use it for security reasons. As their use continues, the motivation shifts to increasing productivity. Additionally, young companies (one to two years old) use SaaS to improve the employee experience, not to reduce costs. For companies in business three years or more, the motivation becomes to increase productivity.

IT lacks visibility into their SaaS environment

It’s impossible to monitor and manage SaaS apps without adequate visibility. Unfortunately, many still lack adequate visibility and aren’t making efforts to close this gap.

Overall, 72% of the professionals we surveyed said they were “very certain” of the total number of SaaS apps in use at their organizations. More than three-quarters (76%) see unsanctioned apps as a security risk, yet one in three companies surveyed aren’t searching their networks for unsanctioned end user app subscriptions.

Additionally, non-SaaSOps users significantly underestimate their number of super admins per app. A similar disconnect emerges around perception versus reality for the number of files with potentially sensitive data that are accessible to the public.

IT pros and security pros have different perspectives of their knowledge

When asked about their awareness of the total number of SaaS apps in use at their organizations, responses differed significantly by job function. Among the security professionals surveyed, for example, only 43% were very confident in their organizations’ SaaS discovery capabilities, as compared to 71% of IT professionals.

Sensitive data is everywhere

We gave respondents a total of 16 options for naming where sensitive data lives, and they all received a significant number of responses. A SaaS data security strategy must therefore be comprehensive if it’s going to be effective.

Frighteningly, some of the locations of that sensitive data are unknown. Our research identified three issues that exemplify the challenges IT organizations face when administering SaaS apps. The first of which is disagreements over the true extent and nature of unsanctioned app usage and the third is pervasive, and potentially dangerous, data security issues.

Want to dive further into the data? Download the 2020 State of SaaSOps report here.