What is SaaS sprawl?
The advent of cloud-based SaaS tools ushered in a supercharged and hyper-effective workplace powered by technological advances and human creativity. SaaS apps’ inherent ease of adoption, limitless applicability, feature and aesthetic personalization opportunities, rapid deployment, and business-friendly economics made it an obvious choice to enhance productivity at work for businesses that were embracing digital tools.
With time, companies’ digital tools and services stack grew to an extent where it became a tedious task for management to stay cognizant of what tools a company licenses, what the workforce actually uses, and its impact on workforce productivity. This burgeoning problem is defined as SaaS sprawl when management is unable to manage the cost, consumption, impact, and compliance of SaaS tools used by the workforce.
Companies that are powered by digital tools, on average, run on a tech stack constituted by 70 to 100 digital tools and apps. Of this stack, collaboration and productivity tools alone number anywhere between 16 to 25 tools. On top of these, individual teams use their own tech stack, as seen at most software development teams working with Git, CI/CD, and monitoring tools, while marketing and sales teams work using their customer relationship, communication, and data management stack. Many of these organizations saw a rise in the number of tools adopted and used only recently and therefore, there is a prevalent lack of insight into the cost, adoption, usage, and visibility into the impact these digital tools have on productivity and employee experience.
What led to app sprawl?
The nature of SaaS tools allows an individual to go from purchasing to using a tool within a matter of hours if not minutes. There is no deployment process required but rather just a (mostly) self-served setup process that makes it easy to roll out to users. Further, there is little to no maintenance needed to keep them running well. This inherent ease of adoption and usage of SaaS led to a 68% increase in SaaS apps used by companies in 2018. When the Covid-19 pandemic enforced new remote and hybrid working models, companies ramped up their existing digital infrastructure to include more apps to cover the breadth of their business operations. There exists a SaaS solution for any and all conceivable business tasks, and this breadth of application comes with the advantage of personalization of tools to suit the niche needs of all teams. Combined with the subscription economics of SaaS, today, a digitally native company would use approximately 163 SaaS apps for everyday business operations and this number is projected to grow multifold.