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Why CIOs Need a SaaSOps Team


June 17, 2021

3 minute read

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Believe it or not, CIOs have been discussing how IT can operate as more than a cost center for years. Back in 2014, analysts from Deloitte acknowledged that the rise of SaaS in the enterprise would require IT to become more strategic business partners.

But as you’ve probably guessed, a lot has changed since then. Most notably, SaaS is not only rising in popularity, it’s exploding. And as a result, a growing number of organizations have adopted a SaaSOps mentality to discovering, managing, and securing their cloud-based environments.

So what does this mean for IT organizations around the world? Based on recent conversations with our CIO Tommy Donnelly, it’s clear that CIOs need SaaSOps teams. Here are a few reasons why Donnelly believes these dedicated SaaSOps functions are more critical than ever.

SaaS is the fastest way to transform a business

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, it had become abundantly clear that SaaS applications were the fastest way to transform a business. According to our research, companies estimate that 70% of the business apps they use today are SaaS-based. By 2025, they expect that just 15% of the business apps they use will be non-SaaS products.

In many ways, this isn’t breaking news. But how has (or should) the SaaS explosion changed the way that CIOs structure their IT teams? Donnelly believes that dedicated SaaSOps teams are essential for enabling employees to leverage the cloud-based tools at their disposal.

“What we really should be doing is creating a repeatable process or capability to implement technology cross-functionally without creating data or process silos,” he continues. “You have to have a SaaS management framework to make sure that you’re securing and managing those applications—and it’s just impossible to do without SaaSOps.”

An endless amount of data to secure

Statista estimates that the world will produce roughly 74 zettabytes of data this year. I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t heard of a zettabyte until I sat down to write this blog post.

While it’s not exactly breaking news that we live in a data-driven world, Donnelly says that data lives in more applications than ever before. Without a dedicated SaaSOps team and tooling, he says that it’s difficult to manage that data, let alone secure it.

“There are a lot of risks involved when you handle the amount of data that IT touches,” Donnelly adds. “If you don’t know where it is, your organization is prone to either an intentional or unintentional data disclosure.”

Those data disclosures are far from hypothetical. TechRepublic reported that while publicly-disclosed data breaches were down by 48%, a whopping 140 billion records were compromised in 2020. Security firm Risk Based Security (RSB) says that this is the highest volume of exposed records that it has seen since 2005.

The increased potential for data leaks is just one of many reasons that Donnelly says SaaSOps teams are essential for any CIO. “IT serving as reactive ticket-takers is not a sustainable operating model with the explosion of SaaS adoption,” he adds. “Real advantage can be obtained by accelerating the pace at which you can implement transformational technology.”

Businesses need to keep pace with technological innovation

It’s really difficult to find consensus in tech, but experts tend to agree on two things. First, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation last year. More importantly, all signs indicate that the rate of technological innovation will only increase this year.

In response, Donnelly says that CIOs need a SaaSOps team to help their companies keep up with that pace.

“You’re not going to be able to compete with a company that’s seeing up to 20 to 50% more productivity from every single department with a mature SaaSOps practice,” Donnelly added. “As technological innovation increases, it’s important to get ahead of it now—and SaaSOps enables you to do that sustainably.”

Donnelly reflected on how not too long ago, it wasn’t uncommon for an organization to ask IT to transform a business through one major project. Over time, companies began asking IT to do this every quarter. Now, Donnelly says that his Technology and SaaSOps teams tackle large-scale cross-functional projects roughly every two weeks.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone if this pace accelerates even further,” Donnelly surmised. “So you have to build out a SaaSOps function to manage those projects.”

Related: For more resources on how IT can become a true partner to the business, check out How to Embed IT (and SaaSOps) Into the Business and How We Built a Strategic IT Roadmap (Plus 4 Ways You Can Too).