When the pandemic struck, it caused us to leave our offices, work from home, and rush to the cloud. Centralized offices became decentralized networks of people working from home. Because of this, many cloud apps went from important tools to centers of gravity for our departments. Ideas that bloomed in a conference room now take root in the virtual whiteboards of Miro. Conversations about the newest HBO show around the water cooler continue in Slack and other chat tools.
Our relationship with technology and software changed. Now, we must consider what these changes mean for the future of our software and our IT teams. With that in mind, here are my predictions for the new year related to SaaS and IT.
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Organizations Will Embrace Decentralized Software Decision-Making
Who makes software purchase decisions in your organization? Once upon a time, the answer was “the IT team,” but nowadays, we say “it depends.”
IT once held central authority over all software purchases because they were accountable for the organization’s data security. However, since the introduction of software-as-a-service (SaaS), line of business (LOB) leaders have had more influence on software buying, resulting in decentralized decision-making.
This decentralization, where LOB is involved in purchasing, happened for a few reasons:
- Software became more numerous and specific to the job function of the buyers
- Testing and adopting software became easier for non-IT personnel
- Optimization and speed became even more important
But, despite this change in buying behavior, our mindset didn’t change. Even though our buying was increasingly decentralized, we still acted like IT held all the authority.
Then, the pandemic struck. We worked from home and adopted even more SaaS tools to fill the gaps. Not only was our buying decentralized, but now, so was our organization. Rather than gathering at a shared space, many companies embraced a remote or hybrid model.
The final straw, the illusion of centralized authority, was gone. But now, we’re struggling to reconcile this new way of working with our old way of thinking. We lack the centralized knowledge necessary to handle decentralized decision-making. Decentralization, while not new, has accelerated, and it will only continue.
What can we do?
My 2022 prediction:
- Software purchasing will become more democratized and collide with the old way of doing things – centralized control through IT.
- As a result, organizations will prioritize centralized visibility alongside decentralized control.
- Organizations that address this early will be in the best position to succeed because they will manage their business’ need for autonomy without sacrificing security.
IT’s Role Will Shift (Even More)
You might have one question: How does decentralization impact the IT department?
As our understanding of SaaS evolves in this new year, so will the importance of IT as the linchpin. The strategic enabler of technology. A group of technology specialists who help the rest of the organization work in sync even when remotely async.
IT is the central intelligence that connects the efforts of all the different departments. Decentralized decision-making is terrific for speed and agility. Still, if there’s no thread connecting the departments, we experience adverse outcomes. Duplicate efforts, wasted licenses, security risks, wasted spend, and siloed information.
If you have ever watched a live symphony orchestra, you’ve noticed the conductor. This exciting figure does not play an instrument, nor do they teach the orchestra members how to play theirs (I’ve never seen a conductor teach a clarinetist the fingering for a solo). These musicians are professionals! They don’t need a teacher; they need a conductor to ensure the woodwinds play their part at the right time in harmony with the orchestra.
Through the capabilities of a SaaS management system, IT will fill the same role for the technology of the different departments. As a result, they will optimize the applications, departments, and the company as a whole.
My 2022 prediction:
- IT will be recognized as a strategic enabler of technology.
- They will provide central visibility and knowledge critical to the optimization of the various departments.
A great example of this orchestration is how IT can help HR and other departments with onboarding and offboarding. These processes will receive an increased level of attention heading into 2022.
Onboarding and Offboarding Will Become Central Measures of Success
Why does onboarding matter? First impressions shape relationships. Think back to the last time you got a bad impression from someone new. That impression becomes a stain that is difficult to remove.
Now consider that every new hire receives a first impression of your company during onboarding. In those moments of onboarding, they are forming a first impression about what kind of company they joined. If the first impression is positive, it contributes to retention. However, if it is negative, it increases the chance of resignation.
We need to get better at onboarding. And, in the new year, technology will have to play a significant role. With our remote and hybrid working environment, applications and software are not simply tools in the workplace: Software is the workplace. Therefore, good onboarding means showing that you care about good software, provide the tools to succeed, and invest in them.
However, what about last impressions? What about when an employee does leave the company?
If you’ve been conscious at any point in the last six months, you’ve heard of the Great Resignation. Four million Americans – 3% of the American labor force – have resigned from their job every month since July.
That resignation opens a rift in the organization’s security for an IT professional. Every application, every email, and every piece of data is still accessible to that ex-employee until they are fully offboarded.
We found that 76% of IT professionals consider offboarding a significant security threat. The problem is, offboarding takes a lot of time, and it is easy to leave incomplete. Many (if not most) employees still have access to sensitive applications long after leaving the company. This problem is even worse now, thanks to the pandemic. It’s wrong to think of software as a part of the workplace because, once again: Software is the workplace.
That means that failing to offboard an employee is like letting them keep the keys to the office. That’s unthinkable.
My 2022 prediction:
- Companies will get much better at onboarding as they adopt workflow tools and technology stacks to show their commitment to employees.
- Companies will also start tracking onboarding and offboarding as critical indicators of success, such as:
- The time spent on onboarding
- The time spent on offboarding
- The reduction in risk exposure associated with poor offboarding
- The increase in employee retention due to good onboarding
There is no crystal ball, but there are patterns that we can track. Major events cause ripples and aftershocks – trends for which we can anticipate and prepare.
In 2022, I believe we will see a record number of organizations address the decentralized decision-making caused by the SaaS explosion and crescendoed with the rise of the remote workforce. IT’s role will shift to that of a strategic enabler for the entire organization. Lastly, I believe organizations will finally put the appropriate emphasis on onboarding and offboarding related to the entirety of the employee lifecycle.