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Market Alert – Zylo Delivers on a Platform for SaaS-Centric Business Management

Key Stakeholders: Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Finance and Accounts Payable Directors and Managers, Human Resources Officers, Procurement Directors, Software Asset Managers, IT Architects, Vice President/Director/Manager of IT Operations, DevOps Managers, System Architects, Product Managers, IT Sourcing Directors and Managers, IT Procurement Directors and Managers

Why It Matters: SaaS management requires an integrated set of applications to coordinate the business activites driven by SaaS costs, inventory, and usage. With this RESTful API combined with Zylo’s existing application, SaaS optimization capabilities, and integrations, Zylo delivers not only a strong toolkit for companies to support SaaS management, but a platform for businesses to gain a SaaS-centric view of business activities, projects, and goals.

Top Takeaway: With the Zylo API in place, organizations now have a starting point to gain a SaaS-centric view of the business that maps SaaS to the people, processes, projects, technology, and financial drivers of the business.

About the Zylo API

On May 26, 2021, Zylo, a SaaS (Software as a Service) management company, announced the launch of its independent API to provide access to application license and usage data. This API provides companies with the ability to export SaaS subscription data to analytics and asset management tools, use subscription data to push service order workflows to disconnect and optimize subscription usage, and bring new applications into the Zylo platform to support SaaS portfolio optimization.  

In going through the API documentation for the Zylo platform, Amalgam Insights notes that the Zylo API includes access to application-specific subscriptions, data imports, and data exports. Data access includes SaaS categories and subcategories, business units and goals, supplier name, cost center, expense report information, and user license information. Once these fields are mapped to their equivalent categories across applications, Zylo customers will be able to fully synchronize data on an ongoing basis through a RESTful API. 

This API is comparable in some ways to the API provided by Zylo competitor Productiv, but Amalgam Insights notes that the Productiv API both rate-limits and time-limits data batches that are not currently limited in the Zylo API. SaaS Management Bettercloud also has an API for its platform, but Bettercloud’s focus on SaaS operations and its GraphQL and graph analysis makes Bettercloud’s API and platform more aligned to the tactical challenges of workflow and app network analysis rather than finance and accounting.

Business Context for Why This API Matters

Amalgam Insights takes the view that technology expense management should be a core capability for the financially responsible CIO and that SaaS, cloud, and network expense management solutions can be used as the hubs of activity to determine the financial and business activities associated with technology and business transformation. However, one of the biggest challenges to this vision has been the inability for these expense-based platforms to provide their granular data and optimization recommendations to all of the systems that require increasingly detailed technology usage to support business model transformation and agile finance and accounting-based forecasting exercises.

In addition, SaaS is one of the fastest-growing spend categories in the business world. As a market, SaaS is expected to grow over 20% annually over the next five years leading to a $275 billion market in 2025. SaaS currently makes up half of all new software spend and roughly 10% of all new technology spend that will occur in 2021. From a practical perspective, Amalgam Insights estimates that SaaS will save approximately 25 billion employee-hours or 12.5 million employee years of manual work this year. And Amalgam Insights also notes that businesses start supporting 250 SaaS apps on their network as soon as they get to 500 employees, on average. After that point, the SaaS count grows incrementally as employee count increases. These are all different ways of pointing out the importance of SaaS, whether it be in context of software spend, IT spend, or employee productivity.

So, SaaS matters as a business spend category and it can potentially be used to support a variety of business management and analysis tasks. But the technological access to this data has often been limited in the past to flat files that required an intermediate level of data translation or summary data that lacked the granularity to help support individual employees, assets, plans, projects, and products dependent on the optimal usage of SaaS.

This is why the Zylo API fundamentally matters from Amalgam Insights’ perspective. In today’s technology world, every application wants to call itself a “platform” upon inception, which makes the word almost meaningless. But from a practical perspective, a technology platform is one that can help manage multiple applications and to bring together the data, workflows, and outputs of multiple applications in an integrated fashion to improve business outcomes. This is the promise of Zylo’s API in providing a SaaS-centric way of looking at the business usage of SaaS for a variety of applications. 

From Amalgam Insights’ perspective, this was the missing link in seeking an app-based vision for tracking, planning, budgeting, and forecasting business activity from a SaaS-based perspective. If apps and the cloud are as important as everyone in the technology and business worlds claims and if digital transformation is truly important to justify the billions being spent on it, businesses need to find a way to track work not only by department and employee, but by application as well. This next level of visualizing work, employee enablement, project resource dependencies, and digital workflow supply chains is what Amalgam Insights ultimately finds most interesting about the emergence of this API.

Recommendations for the Technology Expense Community

Our key recommendation is this: Work to gain a SaaS-centric view of the business that maps SaaS to the people, processes, projects, technology, and financial drivers of the business. 

To contexualize this recommendation, consider that the technology expense community largely comes from three areas at the moment: telecom expense management, software asset management, and cloud cost management (also known as FinOps). These three categories of workers typically bring together some understanding of technology, sourcing, and accounting to help the business based on the IT Rule of 30, which states that every unmanaged IT subscription spend category averages 30% in waste.  By optimizing these spend categories, the technology expense community has proven its worth as we have saved large enterprises millions of dollars while providing visibility to opaque and complex spend categories.

But we are facing a moment of reckoning when technology has become increasingly important to the foundational operations of a company. The COVID pandemic proved the need to both manage and support employees quickly and regardless of their physical location. As connectivity, data access, and application access became the biggest bottlenecks to accessing expertise and completing work that required multiple employees, the need to understand the cost basis of SaaS, the SaaS licenses and access that each employee required to be fully productive, and the infrastructure and security requirements associated with SaaS all became mandatory to track and visualize on a regular basis. 

In this light, the key recommendation Amalgam Insights provides to the technology expense community based on this announcement is clear: it is no longer enough to only cut costs and businesses require a SaaS-centric business view to go along with finance-centric and people-centric views. You may not be in the position to fully act on the repercussions of what you find, but you are in a perfect position to empower your CIO, CFO, and CEO on this vital view of apps that run the business. 

Amalgam Insights believes that the Zylo API combined with the existing Zylo application, data schema, and integrations provides a strong foundation for visualizing the SaaS-enabled enterprise. Whether companies choose to work with Zylo, work with another SaaS management provider, or build their own solution, Amalgam Insights believes that the future of IT management is dependent not only on cost visibility and savings, but on providing a business lens to link technologies to core business functions.

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