Eliminate Shadow IT: SaaS Management Begins with SaaS Discovery

Cory Wheeler

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From a SaaS Discovery Tool to a SaaS Management Platform

When we created Zylo, we did so with the intent of providing a solution for enterprise CIOs, CFO,s and Procurement leaders to discover all cloud-based subscription software and eliminate shadow IT.

In doing so, they’d have a way to understand and track the value of the subscription software being used internally and the financial impact of subscription software on their organization.

The early thesis of Zylo revolved around creating a “discovery tool” to accomplish these tasks. Now, Zylo does exactly that and much more. In fact, our enterprise customers now refer to Zylo as a “platform” rather than a single tool because it functions as a central SaaS system of record, providing more value as a system than a single tool with limited functionality.

Shadow IT Carried Benefits

Shadow IT — IT systems bought or built within an organization without organizational approval. In the world of SaaS, shadow IT is bought by the business units to immediately solve efficiency issues, increase productivity, provide education, and drive value within the department.

Believe it or not, some say that shadow IT–in moderation–is good for business. When business units are independently purchasing solutions (often best-in-class, one-off solutions), the organization as a whole innovates at a faster rate than if all purchases were handled by Sourcing, Procurement, or IT teams.

Five years ago, I might have been inclined to agree. During my time in enterprise Procurement, shadow IT was an inescapable reality that included risks and sunk costs. However, IT and Procurement would greatly hamper innovation if we were to halt disparate solution adoption in order to regain control.

With Full Discovery, Shadow IT No Longer Creates Benefits

Today, the Zylo Discovery Engine effectively eliminates all shadow IT. The visibility Zylo provides IT leaders facilitates the empowerment of their business units to continue researching and seeking solutions, safely. With Zylo, IT leaders can measure value, determine thresholds for centralized governance, and benchmark costs.

Who Gets Blamed for Shadow IT?

More often than not, our customers report that the organization blames Procurement and IT for the proliferation of Shadow IT.

As organizational software management decision-makers, IT is first blamed for hindering the adoption of effective solutions while enforcing the implementation of ineffective solutions.
Consequently, seen as blind to the needs of individual departments, IT managers lose control of Shadow IT when business units begin the covert purchasing of SaaS applications. The application spend is misplaced in expense reports: Shadow IT prevails.

When these purchased solutions are poorly implemented, business units rely on IT to troubleshoot on-demand. Without previous knowledge of the application, IT managers cannot forecast support and therefore fall short of resources. Once again, business units deem IT ineffective and continue operating under the radar.

Finally, when addressed in terms of security and ROI, IT leaders are blamed again for their inability to wrangle, manage, measure, and secure on all software solutions across the organization. It seems that no matter who purchases the software within the organization, at the end of the day, the blame always ladders up to IT and procurement.

Moving Beyond Discovery to Managing and Optimizing SaaS

In addition, an interesting shift has started to happen organically within our customer base immediately after gaining early visibility into their complete SaaS stack. Organizations are building internal processes, procedures, and governance off of Zylo now that they confidently understand all of the activity across the organization.

The IT and Finance users are also expanding the adoption of Zylo across a diverse set of users in the business. Let’s look at what other business areas Zylo’s customers are extending the reach (and initial thesis!) of Zylo’s SaaS management platform:

  • Sales & Marketing Operations: Traditionally, Sales and Marketing Operations are some of the heaviest SaaS buyers and users in an enterprise. Zylo user teams are quickly pulling these teams into the cloud software management conversation after validating the size of investments the teams make in subscription software. Now, these teams are using Zylo to be their SaaS system of record, using it for purchasing decisions and recommendations on a regular basis.
  • IT Security: Security teams have long searched for cloud software discovery mechanisms. Zylo provides that full discovery of SaaS applications and Security teams are now running their existing review processes against all software that might be housing internal, sensitive data. They are then housing that information in Zylo to give a security view to their stack.
  • IT (Software) Asset Management: Large enterprises have teams dedicated to the discovery and management of software assets (historically, on-premise), but have never had a way to track the growing subscription software category in real-time. My favorite quote from one of our enterprise customer SAM teams is: “We’ve been waiting for you!” Software asset managers, take note! SaaS changed the way software is purchased and Zylo is changing the way software is managed.
  • Legal: Without an exhaustive Contract Management system in place, Legal teams struggle to maintain a centralized repository for contracts that are signed off on by the business directly (with or without Legal approval). Contracting and renewals are a central focus in Zylo and Legal teams are now matching contracts to applications in a single centralized location to manage cloud software spend and contracts.

Put a Strategy Around the Growing Subscription Software Category

It is clear among Zylo customers that gaining real-time visibility into all software in use across the organization is just the beginning. Zylo brings subscription software out of the “shadows” and enables it to flow into existing processes and governance structures built for traditional on-prem software.

Now IT can work collaboratively with the business on driving value from all software in use across the organization while using existing governance structures.

About the Author

Cory Wheeler

Cory Wheeler is the VP of Services and Customer Success at Zylo, where he helps tech-forward companies understand, manage and optimize their cloud-based infrastructure via the Zylo platform. Prior to Zylo, Cory spent 15 years in Finance and Procurement, managing categories and sourcing teams at Arthur Andersen, BearingPoint and both Takeda and Astellas Pharmaceuticals. Cory then built the Procurement organization at ExactTarget in 2012, and managed the integration of the new Marketing Cloud Procurement organization into Salesforce.com in 2015. He and his family reside in Indianapolis, IN, where they can be found cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers and Chicago Cubs.