Sharpening Your Focus on Shadow IT in the Cloud 

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With cloud subscriptions and soaring costs exceeding expectations, having a grasp on a cloud IT environment has gone beyond the human resources of an IT department. From infrastructure as a service (IaaS) management of AWS and Azure environments to authorized and unsanctioned software as a service (SaaS) subscriptions for Microsoft Teams and Zoom, the business landscape has become blurry to the naked eye of manual processes.  

While the pandemic inspired the fastest period of digital transformation, the result has become a fertile ground for shadow IT, where employees are downloading cloud-based applications across personal and corporate-owned mobile devices. Especially, as 93 % of IT leaders are concerned with harsh economic headwinds, now is the time to introduce artificial intelligence and automation into your business to better understand and facilitate cloud expense management. 

Only then, can you get a clear view of the cloudiest environments and find what’s lurking in the shadows. While there are sure to be some unpleasant surprises, you will ultimately be able to manage all that you can see.  Integrating AI across all your systems is a smart “next step” in any digital transformation. By shining a bright light on shadow IT, organizations can deter security breaches and avoid unnecessary costs. 

Eye-opening discoveries  

Starting with your identity provider (IdP), a system that creates, stores, and manages digital identities, you can begin to understand how to clean up your multi-cloud mess. An IdP’s user authentication services let you see who is using what across your authorized IT domain. However, you shouldn’t assume that all you can see is all that is there. For example, you may have a handle on your Salesforce subscriptions because there is a bill for it, but if a sales employee is using and paying for LinkedIn Navigator out of their own pocket, that subscription is unknown.  

SaaS management is a critical next step for today’s modern businesses to be able to paint the big picture with details about licenses, subscriptions, and usage of every application. Like mining for gold, this information can provide actionable insights at the touch of a button in the form of reports to inform smarter, faster decision-making, and cost savings. 

Clearing the shadows with systems integration and automation 

By integrating enterprise systems with cloud vendors – as well as mobile and network providers – businesses can understand their entire IT landscape from a security, management, and operational standpoint. Integrations of vendors are integral to SaaS expense management and SaaS license management. The ability to identify which licenses and applications are in use, who is using them, and how much they are being used, provide immediate opportunities for cost-savings and business optimization.  

For true SaaS expense management, every vendor requires an integration. For Office 365 or Salesforce, imagine 600 licenses are granted and 550 are assigned. By understanding who is and who is not utilizing a license, organizations can renegotiate a higher tier of licenses, with every feature for some users and downgrade to the specific license types required by others. In some cases, AI and automation can help determine that there may be a different vendor to replace it all together. 

A full IT accounting for finance 

A proper accounting of actual usage per employee, true license breakdown, and accurate costs can be assigned and allocated by department. It may at first look like an organization is out of capacity for a given vendor license, but quite often licenses can be reassigned to make better use of them. Having that knowledge fingertip-ready can inform IT to reassign low-usage seats to other users and renegotiate vendor contracts based on specific organizational requirements.  

Bringing together traditionally siloed data – licenses, contracts, cost per user — on a single platform can create a big payoff in terms of better business management, security, and optimization. Having this information under one cloud expense management umbrella for IaaS, UCaaS, and SaaS at once creates and fulfills a new business promise. Data integration is the only way to get to the deepest level of information, and once you have a sampling of complete data, it makes you want more.  From cloud to mobile to fixed network connections, the data doesn’t lie, and there is incredible power in bringing AI in to know the truth about what’s hiding in your organization. 

What’s more, AI and automation can bridge the gap between IT and finance by being able to demonstrate expenditures by line item, user, and business benefits. As businesses face economic headwinds and fourth quarter, cost-cutting is always in fashion. Having the ability to run reports for IT – without using valuable resources for manual repetitive tasks – can contribute more valuably to your bottom line. 

Tangoe has built its business on enterprise technology management – moving as a leader in telecom expense management (TEM) and expanding across the IT spectrum to technology expense and lifecycle management. Through integrations with the largest global ecosystem of providers, our smart platform helps businesses simplify, manage, and optimize IT expenses and assets. The ability to provide a comprehensive picture with underlying details for your cloud expense management (CEM), mobile device management (MDM), and fixed network connections sets us apart from the competition. In today’s modern business environment, having a smarter business platform can be the difference between murky data and a bright future.