Torii CEO reflects on the changing relationships between SaaS users and IT teams

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Businesses continue to embrace cloud computing, which has altered enterprise IT as we know it. The benefits for businesses are obvious. Companies can now use powerful solutions at more accessible rates and without the lengthy deployment times of conventional enterprise software.

Four out of five enterprises have already moved at least a quarter of their applications to the cloud, and more workloads are expected to follow. With this continued adoption, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.2 percent from 2018 through 2023.

However, these developments have also given rise to issues like the rise of “shadow IT,” where employees acquire and use digital tools that aren’t known to the IT department. CIOs and their teams fear that these unsanctioned technologies can increase their organization’s security risks. Such concerns have increased the demand for effective management tools that can help companies get a better handle on their SaaS use.

I recently spoke with Uri Haramati, CEO of Torii, whose platform provides means for IT teams to better take control of SaaS and mitigate risks arising from its use. Haramati himself is a veteran of the software startup ecosystem, having been involved in applications like Houseparty and Meerkat as co-founder and product head of Life on Air. He shared some of his thoughts on the need for enterprises to effectively manage SaaS.

What are the most burning issues surrounding SaaS use for enterprises today?

Uri Haramati: The rise of SaaS has been a major development for everyone who uses tech. We now have an enormous selection of software solutions to help with every type of daily operation, in every department of the organization.

You no longer have to be a tech expert, an experienced IT or a devops pro to access enterprise-grade software. You can simply sign up for a subscription. Most software companies today offer their products as web apps, so there’s no shortage of solutions that users can choose from. For enterprises, this has allowed their teams to quickly try out new tools that help them accomplish more.

But this has also brought about some problems for organizations. Staff members can get overly enthused by the way they can easily opt in to SaaS products, that they fail to advise the IT department regarding their purchase and use. This matter of shadow IT can become worrisome for companies, since it can alter their workflows, affect their data’s integrity, and expose them to serious risks. But even on a more general level, it’s gotten harder to simply know and control the tech stack that your company has opted into and is paying for.

Shadow IT seems to be one of the more pressing concerns arising from SaaS. Is it really that bad?

Uri Haramati: I’m more of the belief that shadow IT is not entirely bad. In many cases, it is evidence of how dynamic the organization is and how it harnesses technology to achieve its goals. Of course, there are downsides. Without a dynamic inventory of SaaS subscriptions, chances are there are apps being used in the organization that don’t integrate well with others, that are redundant or that are problematic from a GDPR perspective, for example.

If IT doesn’t have control over these accounts, companies may also risk losing their data if employees leave and fail to turn over their access credentials. Poorly designed or poorly supported applications are also more susceptible to cyberattacks and can create security vulnerabilities.

But you can also think of shadow IT as a necessary outcome that’s caused by team members being keen to experiment and to find ways to do their work better. You can think of these users as early adopters who even function as an extension of IT in trying out advanced tools that could potentially be game-changers for their organizations.

How does your solution, Torii, address these concerns?

Uri Haramati: At Torii, we want our users to get the most out of their SaaS applications without having to worry about the tedious aspects of managing them. As a platform, we want to provide IT managers with the means to manage spending, utilization, and governance of SaaS applications.

It effectively reduces the potential impact of shadow IT by making all SaaS use visible. It can detect all instances of SaaS use, note the licensing and subscription terms of each application, map the frequency of use, and even log the costs of each account. Torii can also help manage access to these applications through direct integrations and through single sign-on services. Our automated workflows take care of the tedious, mistake-prone IT tasks, freeing IT to handle the tasks that matter.

For example, Torii can easily and in real-time know when a new app is being integrated by any user and needs to be evaluated, alert managers regarding software licenses that are not being utilized and should be removed and even revoke access for anyone who has left the organization.

We’ve designed these features to make IT’s job of managing applications and users much easier.

How do you see these trends in the context of the changing role of IT at companies?

Uri Haramati: CIOs and IT leaders have had a tough stretch in recent years, especially now that so much is being demanded from them and their teams. Their roles are evolving, and many of them are facing some sort of identity crisis. They now have to share software decision making with the rest of the organization.

Just a few years ago, they were the authorities and gatekeepers for all things tech. They now have to find ways to act more as facilitators and orchestrators, bringing all other units and departments together.

By giving them access to better management tools, they can make this shift from handling cumbersome mechanical tasks to focusing more on strategic initiatives.

What do you think is coming next for SaaS in the enterprise?

Uri Haramati: SaaS adoption is only bound to increase as we see more innovations and developments in the business solutions space. The companies we work with are seeing an average of seven to 15 new tools every single week. It doesn’t stop.

This says it all about the growth of SaaS and about how technology now figures into more aspects of the business. I think that the SaaS tide is so high that pretty soon, software will be managing software – we won’t need humans to manage software anymore. I’m sure we have quite the exciting time ahead of us.

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Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in more than a hundred publications globally, over the course of twenty years. More about him can be found at DaveGordonWrites.com