Q&A: How ViacomCBS cut Zoom costs, not jobs, during the pandemic

    In February 2020, earlier than lockdown restrictions had even come into power in lots of nations, Zoom introduced it had already added extra new customers within the first two months of 2020 than it had in all of 2019.As lockdowns have been launched in North America and throughout Europe final 12 months due to the pandemic, firms purchased up Zoom licenses en masse, usually with little due diligence or long-term planning by these buying them. That rush helped make Zoom’s videoconferencing software program a go-to answer for distant staff who wanted to remain linked. ViacomCBS
    James Moy, world senior director for tech asset administration at ViacomCBS.
    It additionally meant many firms wound up spending greater than essential to license Zoom (and different software program) within the rush to maintain their enterprise up and operating. Now, many are wanting again at their spending over the previous 12 months to search out financial savings. ViacomCBS, the US media conglomerate, is amongst these auditing their SaaS spending; it reduce annual Zoom expenditure by greater than 32% by discovering and eradicating unused Zoom licenses, amongst many different areas of IT spending.James Moy, world senior director for expertise asset administration at ViacomCBS, talked about his position on the firm and the way vigorous IT asset administration helped ViacomCBS reduce prices.(This interview, organized by the ITAM Forum, a world commerce group that advances the IT Asset Management business, has been edited for size and readability.)What was your organization’s method to software program deployment earlier than the pandemic?”Prior to the pandemic, we approached IT asset management (ITAM) very systematically. Rolling out a tool will never fix your problems. Everyone thinks there will be some kind of silver bullet, but from a software asset management perspective, that’s never the case. There are three things you need to consider: people, process and the technology that you use, and everything we do here is based off a gold standard for [IT Asset Management].”From the highest down, our CTO desires belongings, each {hardware} and software program, to be managed appropriately, as a result of he realizes that after we do that, we get our ROI. We grew to become very conscious that as an alternative of chopping individuals, you possibly can really make giant financial savings off software program by managing what you spend on it with out having to chop assets or lose jobs. This grew to become particularly related throughout the pandemic the place everybody was chopping prices, as a result of they weren’t making the identical quantity of income, however there’s a price optimization and financial savings alternative within the software program world, particularly in SaaS.”When it came to overhauling your SaaS deployments, how much of the process was driven by the need to find savings as a result of the pandemic, or was this something you’d started before 2020?”Before the pandemic began, we began wanting on the SaaS spend and located a variety of duplicity throughout a number of operate instruments. Web conferencing was one in every of them, collaboration instruments was one other, alongside CRM, infrastructure and software program; a number of instruments within the area that operate the identical approach. We approached it as an optimization train, wanting on the 45 or 50 instruments we had … and acknowledging though everybody makes use of them otherwise, all of them operate the identical approach. The query was, how can we drive these 50 instruments down to a few and make the appropriate selections [based on] the place is that this firm going?”If you’re going towards the SaaS model, and you go in towards a faster provisioning process, that’s the way to go. You have to rationalize the tools, compare the tools and make sure the price point is correct as you roll this out. There’s a lot of discussion internally, that has to happen with certain stakeholders because change is inevitable, and people don’t like change in general.”Can you speak us by the method of streamlining Zoom licenses?  “When we started looking at Zoom, we realized that like many companies, we had been buying a lot of SaaS products but there was no centralized management of the contracts. All those brands that make up Viacom CBS were managing their licenses separately and there was a lot of purchasing within the SaaS world via procurement cards or corporate cards.”We used a third-party, SaaS administration platform referred to as Zylo to centralize all of the SaaS contracts and we discovered there have been three platforms the place we might make financial savings, one in every of which was Zoom. What had been occurring was licenses have been bought each on a contract and on procurement playing cards. There was no administration of licenses, there was no re-harvesting guidelines inside the Zoom console, and haphazard deployment, which means individuals have been simply willy-nilly giving out the highest tier of licenses.”Zoom offers users the choice of different tiers, including a full enterprise license and a basic account, which are free, and host calls up to 40 minutes. When we dug a little deeper, we found 289 pro users with paid-for pro licenses that were not using those accounts at all, so we removed them. We had a further 459 people who had pro licenses but were using those licenses as if they were basic accounts, meaning their meetings were no more than 40 minutes and with less than five people. So we removed those and moved them to the free tier. We also put a re-harvesting rule in place that stipulated that if you haven’t used your account in 90 days, we’re removing your license and giving it to someone else.”Ultimately, we harvested about 5,500 licenses and ended up making a saving of round 32%.”What was the reaction from colleagues? Did you receive pushback from those who had their pro accounts taken away?”There was somewhat pushback from sure individuals, however now we have the statistics to again up our resolution making. We additionally supplied a straightforward approach for individuals who have been moved to the free tier to get their professional account again if crucial. Different departments wish to attempt to declare particular person duty for his or her budgetary selections, however we needed to inform them, ‘It’s not your price range, it is the corporate’s price range.’ People wanted to comprehend that we weren’t making an attempt to impede how they work. We’ll give you the instruments you want, however on the similar time, if you happen to do not use the device we will reclaim it.”Besides from having to win over your colleagues, were there any other challenges you came across when implementing this new way of working?”I feel individuals have been extra skeptical than anything, primarily as a result of individuals did not consider that we might handle SaaS licenses in a centralized approach. People consider ITAM professionals are bean counters, however we’re not — we see a variety of issues, notably inside the vendor administration and procurement area, in addition to managing a full life-cycle of {hardware} and software program belongings, which accurately impacts the underside line.”Anytime someone is skeptical about a program we’re trying to roll out, we always make sure we have the numbers to back it up. It is difficult and sometimes it can be really challenging, but there’s never a dull moment.”It begins on the prime, you need to have somebody that backs this system on the C-suite degree as a result of with out that, you are actually operating round spinning your wheels. However, when you roll it out from an enterprise scale and other people perceive the why and begin seeing the outcomes, it makes the job simpler. You simply must create that imaginative and prescient so individuals should purchase into in.”But, when you pitch it as: ‘We can either save costs by unfortunately letting people go or we can look for other ways to save money, such as reducing our SaaS spend,’ then people were more willing to get on board with it.”You stated that alongside Zoom, there have been two different SaaS platforms that have been ripe for price financial savings. How are you approaching these?”Another platform we looked at was Salesforce. We plugged it into Zylo and found about 30 instances of Salesforce in our environment, so we started to consolidate our Salesforce licenses across the company, which we’re still in the process of doing. Now, we have a much better view of how many people are using it, when they use it, and people are no longer able to go off and haphazardly buy additional licenses. By using data and analytics and building a great relationship with the publisher, we’ve been able to drive down pricing.”What recommendation do you will have for different firms that wish to replicate your cost-saving efforts and streamline SaaS deployments?”Do your due diligence when evaluating your SaaS tools. Don’t believe in any sales pitch, always do a PLC or proof of concept. Think of it like buying a car. When you go to a car dealership, the salesperson will tell you everything good about the car and although you’ll ask them questions, you really don’t know if the car performs how you need it to until you try it out.”The final aim for the corporate ought to be to save cash and with the intention to that, you want knowledge and analytics. Not solely will that provide help to bodily see how a lot cash it can save you, it’s additionally an necessary start line for any future negotiations with software program distributors.”

    Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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