The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Nidhi Jain, founder and CEO of CloudEagle, a software as a service (SaaS) procurement and management platform based in California. Jain discussed the importance of having company-wide visibility into software procurement and usage and explained the challenges behind SaaS sprawl.
Morgan Stevens: What motivated you to start CloudEagle?
Nidhi Jain: I saw a problem in how buying software is no longer limited to only one person or one department in a company. Previously, finance, information technology (IT), and procurement teams were the gatekeepers as to what software any employee uses. However, with the rise of SaaS, anyone with a credit card can buy software. I saw that occur at my previous companies, Box and ServiceNow. For example, at General Electric, a few teams used Box without the CIO knowing about it. Even with distributed buying, the finance, IT, and procurement teams are still held responsible for what software they’re buying. With the proliferation of SaaS, product-led growth, and distributed buying, there are not enough tools in the market that can help companies streamline their procurement process and get visibility into their software spend. We decided to start this company where we could help the CIO and CFO streamline their procurement process while still giving employees flexibility in choosing their own tools. CloudEagle provides finance, IT, and procurement teams with visibility into their spend, gives them control back, and helps them optimize their spend on software. There’s a lot of wastage that happens—around $30 billion is wasted in unused software, companies paying higher rates than they should, and companies acquiring duplicate apps. There’s a big market opportunity to prevent this wastage from happening.
Stevens: What are the technologies behind CloudEagle’s platform?
Jain: We use a lot of machine learning, data, and artificial intelligence (AI) to accomplish this. We have a database of 200,000 software vendors. We understand features, pricing, who’s using which apps, what other companies are using, and more. There are a lot of AI and large language models involved in recommending and pricing apps as well as identifying companies’ duplicate or unused apps.
Stevens: What is SaaS sprawl, and what are the biggest challenges companies face in reversing or managing it?
Jain: SaaS sprawl occurs when a company with 10 people and three software apps grows from 10 to 100,000 people. Employees with credit cards start buying software without approval because they can pay and the information is saved on their browsers. That’s what we describe as sprawl. Those 3 apps become 50 apps and 50 apps become 500 apps, until a company has more apps than employees. The bill runs up as a result of this exponential increase. The challenge is that finance, IT, and procurement teams aren’t aware that these are the apps that their employees are using. So, first, we give them an entire inventory of what is in use in their company. We then identify which apps are duplicates or unused. For example, if a company is planning on using Box, we tell them that Dropbox is the standard in their company instead. In doing so, we’re preventing SaaS sprawl from occurring in the first place.
Stevens: What emerging trends do you see in the SaaS space and how can companies prepare for them?
Jain: One of the biggest trends we see right now is companies seeking to get control back while still enabling employees to innovate and have their choice of tools. It’s a balance that companies have to strike. Companies want visibility but they don’t want to curb their employees’ productivity. For example, if an employee feels much more productive using Notion, let them use that, but make the finance, IT, and procurement teams aware of that use. Another trend we see that is specific to AI is a focus on the consumer experience. The same features available on personal devices, such as asking Siri for recommendations for restaurants, are being added to B2B software that employees use during the course of their work. For example, an employee could ask about a contract’s expiration and the software will respond with the correct information, instead of requiring an employee to manually click menu items on a web app
Stevens: What does the future look like for CloudEagle?
Jain: We want to be the Amazon of SaaS buying. Amazon revolutionized how consumers buy their everyday goods. I can click a button and get next-day delivery, compare products, look at reviews, and make sure that I’m getting the best possible prices for my purchases. We want to revolutionize the way software is bought and used by companies in the same way. That’s our vision and that’s where we’re guiding our customers and our company.