The question of SaaS-based technology over the past decade has quickly changed from "should we?" to "how soon can we?" even for the most customized and regulated of industries. And it's no surprise. The benefits of SaaS extend beyond the undeniable OPEX vs CAPEX conversation and into its byproduct — the opportunity to more productively and securely support business users.
As a result, critical business processes and resources are shifting to SaaS, beyond business applications for HR and Sales departments. Take for instance the much publicized Windows 10 "OS as a service" offering (a.k.a. Windows evergreen) that is shifting key aspects of the SaaS business model, namely its continuous feature and quality updates.
This macro move toward SaaS has brought many user and business-friendly features like frictionless authentication and mobility, not to mention its simpler onboarding that enables any line of business to procure software. However, this move has also encouraged a series of IT "best practices" that have potential impacts on the employee digital experience, organizational risk and ultimately, productivity. To get work done, users look and often find workarounds that improve their end-user experience.
I'm not suggesting IT needs to become an enforcer. Instead, I posit that IT can coexist with stellar end-user experience given endpoint visibility into the performance and usage of IT resources and services in the estate. By endpoint visibility, I'm referring to properly monitoring end-user experience and all the factors that may be impacting it directly from the endpoint.
Here are four major IT best practices:
1. Lock down corporate-issued laptops or mobile devices
User workaround: With a growing number of business-critical apps now running via the browser, the attractiveness of locking down corporate-issued devices becomes that much more appealing. While it is a security best practice, it also drives employees to bring unsanctioned devices into the workplace which, in turn, increases organizational risk.
Fix: Consider using a monitoring tool to either test a BYOD program or allowing for increased user rights to their corporate-issued devices. The right monitoring tool should be able to measure and alert in case of risk – be it app, data or access-related.
2. Offload management to SLA vendors
User workaround: Just as the shift to OPEX has very real budgetary benefits, many SaaS-based technologies also have real implications for user experience, namely when it comes to pushed updates bringing endpoint performance implications, unscheduled downtime, and slow time to resolution when SLA issues arise. As a result, users can, and often do, resort to uninstalling updates or even using their own devices until IT fixes the issue.
Fix: Track SLA performance and more specifically, the endpoint resources the service level agreement (SLA) solution is consuming (CPU, memory, you name it). Not only can responsibility for resolving the issue be assigned but it can help ensure transparency in the license agreement. This monitoring, if done properly, can reduce time to resolution and discourage users from having to uninstall performance-impacting updates.
3. Move all users to SaaS-based intranets and file sharing
Workaround: Given slow or complicated SaaS apps, some employees tend to save documents, sensitive or not, locally to "erase them later." Others continue to save files locally, but leave their laptops at the office in an effort to minimize the risk of data loss due to theft at home. But with SaaS apps helping provide an additional layer of access and data security, these user workarounds increase organizational risk.
Fix: Before rolling out these technologies, track user patterns and assign personas based on observed usage. Perhaps there are in-office employees that could save resources locally in a corporate desktop. After rollout, consider measuring how end-user experience has improved or declined and continue to track usage to see where improvements can be made.
4. Install high volumes of security software on endpoints
Workaround: Many times, security technologies slow down system performance and, in turn, employees seek and find ways of disabling those tools to enhance device performance.
Fix: Continuously monitor endpoint performance so that IT can be alerted when user experience declines due to any given (security) app using too many critical endpoint resources.
SaaS is here to stay and evolve. How we shape the workspace to use and consume them is, in large part, up to IT. Endpoint visibility into the environment using digital experience monitoring tools can play a role in making the transition to these technologies that much easier not just for IT but also for those working in them — our end-users.
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