The SaaS explosion is continuously expanding, and has been since it started in the late 2000s. With the average midsize company using 124 SaaS apps and app spend for all companies doubling from 2017 to 2020, this new landscape requires organizational structures that place IT in a more collaborative and less authoritative role.
With this explosion and a pending Millennial/Gen Z workforce leading to the consumerization of IT, SaaS apps are now so intuitive and user-friendly that they can be used right out of the box by any user, not just those in the org with technical backgrounds. Karl Mosgofian, CIO at Gainsight, a Bay area-based CS platform, discussed this in detail in an interview in Forbes. In it, he notes that while this greater access has allowed more functions to own their work, it can cause major roadblocks in using the data, including costly data silos, miscommunication, overlapping systems and incoherent data – which then have to be reoptimized by IT to smooth out the kinks, or face continuous problems before a solution is found.
With 30-plus years of experience in enterprise apps, business process optimization, IT infrastructure and information security, Mosgofian is now focused on how organizations can enable cross-functional teams to collaborate more effectively on managing multiple applications. In the era of digital transformation, Mosgofian believes that instead of deploying the typical top-down approach where IT centrally controls all applications, modern IT leaders should take a more distributed route.
The days when IT simply laid down the law are passing quickly, and IT leaders will have to embrace collaboration instead of control.
Soon after taking the role of CIO at Gainsight, he noticed that while many departments managed their own applications, uncoordinated activities across apps ran rampant. Instead of trying to centralize IT control of all these departments, however, he created a cross-department team to manage applications and bridge the informational gap.
The result is a much more modern and efficient operation, enabling cross-functional teams to work together more effectively on changes that impact multiple applications.
Conquering data silos, for Mosgofian, requires a paradigm shift in viewing problems as solutions (i.e we create new problems to ignore existing ones). While IT teams should always aim to take as much of the technical burden off of departments as possible, there will always be application work in an organization. In other words, it’s inevitable and while “shadow IT,” or IT projects that are managed outside of, and without the knowledge of, the IT department, has gotten a bad rap as of late, Mosgofian says “if you can’t beat it, embrace it.”
His advice to IT leaders is to create an applications coordination team, with representatives from functional departments to jointly address their systems, apps and associated challenges with input from admins and end users. By collaborating, these teams can leverage common tools and forge long-term plans. Measuring an apps team’s impact on ROI is vital, but it’s also important to track qualifiable improvements to communication and proactivity.