Discover the Alliancy's latest editorial 👉 Shadow IT and digital resilience: SaaS Management on the ExCom agenda


Managing the SaaS Revolution: From Shadow IT to Business-Led IT

Expecting the IT department to oversee every technological initiative and address every business need is impractical and impedes an organisation’s progress. Eradicating Shadow IT is not a viable solution. This is where the distinction between Business-Led IT and Shadow IT becomes apparent.

  • ShadowIT

This article is the last one in the series focused on navigating the SaaS Revolution. It highlights the necessity for large organisations to prioritise SaaS management from 2023 to 2027. To access the full content, click here.

What is Business-Led IT?

Like Shadow IT, Business-led IT is technology, software, or SaaS acquired and used by employees outside the purview of IT or security departments. However, Business-Led IT is known by CIOs and is usually implemented with a clear commitment. It is more of a partnership between the IT department and the business users, developed, supported, and endorsed by the CIO.

The democratisation of IT within a company represents a transformation process that impacts all facets of business and IT operations. It offers significant opportunities for growth and empowerment for both employees and IT teams, subject to effective management and security measures.

The need for a governance framework

IT teams typically establish robust frameworks to address associated risks and exert high-level governance. It also requires redefining the relationships with the different stakeholders in the business and diversifying the IT’s role in managing IT by recognising the realities and benefits of business-led IT projects.

To move to a business and value-led approach to IT, CIOs need to address four problems:

  • Transparency: Achieving transparency and coherence across businesses by consolidating, categorising, and communicating a “single source of truth” on technology investments.

  • Risk: Mitigating risk by offering services to support requirements and adopting a flexible governance approach to determine when intervention is necessary and when it isn’t.

  • Empowerment: Minimising digital friction by making tools, platforms, standards, and principles to clarify and enhance decision-making.

  • Accountability: Clarifying that if a business unit deploys a solution, it also assumes ownership and responsibility for it.

The role of SMPs: between autonomy and risk management

A SaaS Management Platform (SMP) plays a central role in addressing these 4 challenges and helping CIOs shift to a modern approach to managing their SaaS landscape. The SMP acts as a centralised hub with a comprehensive set of functionalities, providing all stakeholders with clear visibility. This facilitates risk management and promotes greater autonomy and collaboration between teams.

Managing multi-SaaS environments with disparate consoles results in sprawl, lack of control and overspending. SaaS management platforms simplify this process. […] SMPs offer a complete set of capabilities, whereas adjacent market tools (SAM, CASB, SSE…) provide only some of the capabilities.
(Gartner Market Guide 2022)

The benefits offered by SMPs extend to an enhanced ability to monitor and govern SaaS applications while guiding Business Units. They provide a holistic solution to the proliferation of SaaS applications, enabling organisations to efficiently discover, manage, automate, optimise, govern, protect, and enable them.

Moreover, SMPs can also establish an ‘App Center’ to minimise the use of unauthorised SaaS, while sharing approved applications across all relevant stakeholders. Automation reduces the burden on IT teams while fostering collaboration between teams across various stages of the SaaS lifecycle. Restoring collaboration paves the way for greater innovation and performance.

As the SaaS landscape continues to grow significantly and impact more and more business operations, trying to fight Shadow IT will prove counterproductive.

Instead, CIOs need to provide appropriate advice and support to enable business-led IT. CIOs will increasingly play a leading role in shaping the organisation’s roadmap. To do this, they must act as facilitators and trusted business partners, ensuring that the organisation adapts its operational framework effectively.

This represents a significant opportunity for CIOs to harness value from IT by actively guiding and supporting business units in the process of reducing risk and optimising their digital initiatives.

To accomplish this transformation efficiently, the adoption of SMP will become imperative. It will support CIOs and IT managers in maximising their investments in SaaS, all while ensuring business unit agility, security, and compliance.

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