first of all, I think the article has to be taken with a pinch of salt - it’s an interview with a company trying to sell, ironically, another bit of SaaS that allows you to monitor the cost of SaaS. So naturally they would tend to emphasize the cost and burden of all those SaaS subscriptions.
Having said that, I do think there is a problem inherent in the SaaS trend:
Previously, the IT department, for better or worse, would select, purchase (based on a substantial budget that goes through a fairly thorough approval process) implement and MANAGE software.
Now, software kind of creeps up on you. Someone finds something on the web that appears to be useful, so they give it a try - it’s free at first after all, or not very costly. They start building applications/use cases around it. So before you know it, the company has not only started paying more and more to the SaaS provider. The company also inadvertently invested a lot more in it - which is the time of your employees spent implementing business solutions around it. If you look at a Salesforece application for instance, a LOT of employees will have spent a LOT of time populating it with data, developing rules, reports, you name it. So by the time this appears on the radar of the CIO, you’re not only paying substantial (and growing) subscription fees, there is also a growing user base that is not inclined to let their favourite tool, into which they have invested so much time and effort, be wrestled out of their hands.
The other downside of what you could call employee/user empowerment is that SaaS applications can quickly mushroom out of control. I see that at my company who is using a cloud applications for planning and reporting. Everyone and their dog developed their own custom hierarchy, so now there are multiple similar dimensions that purport to be customer hierarchy, brand, channel. And because it’s so easy to create a new one, while at the same time in the absence of a central governing body (IT) you never quite know whether that channel hierarchy is actually obsolete or still in use/maintained, let alone maintained by WHOM, people tend to create their own hierarchy, just to be on the safe side AND because it’s so easy.
No-one wants to go back to the model of purchasing software, rolling it out, doing laborious upgrades etc. And no-one (outside the IT department) wants to go back to being bossed around by the IT department who quite often behaved like they were the true leaders of the company, because you were so dependent on them. BUT I’m sure there will be a growing recognition that IT management needs to get back into control of all the SaaS applications and how they are being used. It’s matter of security as well as efficiency.
And by the way, while it’s great that SaaS providers keep updating your software, that also means that any morning, you are bound to discover that your software suddenly behaves a little bit differently than the night before. Worst case (and I’ve seen that worst case), you are working on a time-critical report and suddenly your report doesn’t work anymore because the functionality has changed, or the data doesn’t make sense any more. In a ‘normal world’, you would test thoroughly in a sandbox before migrating your production environment to a new release, and you wouldn’t migrate on a day where you know you can’t afford downtimes. Now, that’s not your choice anymore, with sometimes unpleasant consequences.