August 25, 2016 By Mark Campbell 2 min read

As cloud application adoption continues to grow, IT organizations can garner significant insights from their cloud activity. Not only is it imperative to see activity from cloud applications that have generally been approved, but it is also hugely important to understand the usage of unapproved cloud applications. This is typically referred to as shadow IT.

Like other operation expenses, cloud application usage, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line. Understanding which applications employees are actively using — both approved and shadow — is key to maximizing operational efficiency.

Getting the Most Out of Your CASB

Many organizations have implemented a cloud access security broker (CASB) to help in their efforts to harness shadow IT. CASBs are extremely helpful in this regard since most do a good job of showing all the applications in use. However, this detailed visibility offers some additional benefits that companies often overlook.

1. Consolidation of Services

The ease of adoption and procurement of cloud apps enables lines of businesses and individual employees to adopt cloud applications faster than the enterprise. As a result, there are often pockets of cloud application users across the business, each potentially unaware of what the others are doing. At a macro level there can be redundant services, multiple service contracts and higher price points. Using a CASB, you can garner insights from all the applications in use throughout the organization.

A typical example is an organization using multiple file sharing applications. Visibility into the usage of each app can help the organization standardize on a single solution that best addresses the business requirements. Once the standard has been decided upon, additional efficiencies, such as single sign-on tools, can be implemented to simplify and encourage usage.

2. Lower Operational Costs

By standardizing on a single service, contractual efficiencies can also be realized in the form of site licenses or a lower cost per account that can only be achieved with the buying muscle of the IT department. Under the auspices of the IT department, additional governance can be implemented to simplify deployment and add governance controls. Just-in-time provisioning can help employees get up and running faster. The auxiliary governance capabilities help keep subscription numbers in check while also reducing application misuse that could potentially put the organization at risk.

Just as IT can help negotiate better pricing for organizationwide usage, the reverse is also true. A CASB that’s monitoring application usage and activity can help find oversubscribed applications. In these cases, IT can work with the service provider to reduce the number of licenses and associated costs.

3. Propel the Business

The third benefit of a CASB is helping IT understand the business needs. Understanding what the customer wants, like in any business, is vital to being successful; in this case, employees are the customers for the IT department.

A CASB can reveal the applications that employees — or entire teams — are using to be more efficient in the workplace. Applications for team collaboration (e.g., Slack) or business intelligence could be highly prevalent in business units. Visibility into these applications and their usage can provide insights into the organization’s needs, which in turn can help IT deliver what the business wants and better align with business requirements to become more agile and efficient.

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