Taking a data first approach to Corporate IT

Jay Srinivasan

Sprawl is overwhelming Corporate IT environments

Modern IT teams  have to manage 10s to 100s of tools including Core   IT tools such as Okta, JAMF, Active Directory, company-wide tools such as Slack, Zoom and Office365, and function specific SaaS tools like Salesforce, Asana, and Airtable. And core tools in particular have complex configurations -  intricate webs of employees, contractors, apps, groups, and channels. This results in a mesh that’s incredibly hard to decipher and user access, employee enrollment, security, audit and cost gaps abound.

In other articles, we’ve provided specific details around the gaps caused by a lack of visibility in complex IT environments.  In this article, we talk about how to combat sprawl with a data driven approach versus the traditional (and ineffective) integration heavy approach. We also dig into both the challenges and benefits of a data first approach for Corporate IT.

IT teams have been trying to automate their way out of sprawl for a while now, without success

Most investment in improving IT service management and ops over the last decade has gone towards either employee self-service tools (e.g., ML tools like Moveworks and Aisera) or workflow automation (e.g., Okta Workflows, Workato). Essentially IT teams have been trying to stitch workflows together or shift-left work.

However, as we discuss inthis article,  automation and shift-left have resulted in minimal impact on IT work. The reasons why boil down to complex business processes filled with exceptions coupled with legacy tools that are hard to set-up and maintain.

And we’re not the only folks making this observation - here’s a snippet from a recent FreshService blog post: “Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation investments for ITSM tools seldom deliver anticipated value due to poor data and process maturity. Legacy IT applications and infrastructure are still holding organizations from capitalizing on the potential of new technologies.”

It’s time for a new approach: Modern Data Platforms

The old way of building IT solutions integration first doesn’t work anymore, where you keep connecting disjoint tools and data sources. The new way needs to be data first, starting with a data layer on which consumer-grade apps are built.

IT can learn from other functions in leveraging data platforms. Let’s take the example of the modern customer data platform (CDP). CDPs are cloud-based, data warehouse-centric, and easy to configure and use.

The components of the modern customer data stack are:

  • Data ingestion: Ingesting data from every tool that you need to integrate

  • Data storage: A data warehouse that is used to store all the collected data

  • Data transformation: Once all the raw data from each tool is ingested, it will need to be joined and collated into useful data models

  • Visualization and data analytics: A way to view or analyze the transformed data

  • Data governance and RBAC: A way to track sources of data, quality   as well as access control.

CDPs are not the only example of modern data platforms. The same approach has been used to great success by a variety of functions:

  • Sales/Marketing: For more granular engagement with prospects and customers (e.g., Segment)

  • Customer Support: Integrates CS ticket, billing and product tools (e.g., Bloomreach)

  • Product: Improve conversion and retention in product (e.g., Endgame)

  • DevOps: Observability tools help pull together the chaos of production environments (e.g., Datadog)

  • SecOps: Solutions that pull together visibility across endpoints and infrastructure  for proactive management of threats and security (e.g., Wiz).

Why not IT? The promised land of a single pane of glass

We believe that Corporate IT teams can benefit from the same approach to sprawl management, and this is the crux of the Stitchflow approach to IT visibility and remediation.

A single pane of glass for IT stitching together disparate systems and data sources enables:

Visibility, cost and security peace of mind

  • The ability to detect and monitor any gaps in user access, resource drift, compliance and SaaS app usage

  • Ability to cross-reference and reconcile data between tools that don’t traditionally speak with each other (e.g., Okta and Active Directory, MDMs and IDPs)

Operational Efficiency

  • Immediate comprehension of distributed context without spreadsheets and VLOOKUPs reconciling data manually across systems

  • Immediate single-click actions in multiple tools vs. having to log in      to numerous UIs to perform the simplest tasks

Proactive vs. reactive service

  • Ability to be proactive because you can act on changes in the underlying data vs. waiting for a ticket to come in

  • Better ML applied on the state of all relevant end user data vs. just  the ticket title and body

Sounds great. What's the catch?

The challenge is none of the components required to build a single pane of glass for IT currently exist. Specifically:

  • Ingesting data: ETL doesn't exist for Corporate IT tools, let alone real-time. Connectors need to be built and maintained for every IT tool including Core IT tools (e.g., Okta, Google Workspace, AD),  company wide tools (e.g., Slack and Zoom), and Saas applications.

  • Relationship mapping and creating the IT graph: Relationships between data fields within and across tools needs to be mapped      and joined into useful relationships for IT use cases.

  • Actions, not just data: IT teams need access to data as well as remediation actions in each tool that’s integrated with the IT graph.

  • Useful Corporate IT applications: The data and actions across different IT tools incorporated into the IT data platform need to be packaged into use cases that are relevant for IT audiences.

  • Needs to be fully managed: Finally, and most important,  IT teams rarely have budgets for data analysts/app builders so all of the above needs to be fully managed.

Stitchflow architecture

At Stitchflow, we’re addressing all of these challenges and building a solution purpose built to give IT teams 360 visibility across their entire environment.


Stitchflow architecture

The components of the Stitchflow platform are:

  • Data pipelines: ETL built by the Stitchflow team for every important Core IT tool, Company wide tool and SaaS application. Requiring just   a one-click connect, each integration is synched with live data and has incredible depth, often synching more than 100 data and action end points per tool.

  • IT Graph: A real-time graph connecting all of a company’s IT resources across users, devices, permissions, resources like channels and groups. The IT graph also has fine-grained RBAC, and teams can control access to data fields and actions on an individual or group basis.

  • Visibility: Live boards that stitch together data from any combination of data fields across any tools for instant analyses. Coupled with federated search across all of your IT data and detailed filters, any     IT analysis across any combination of tools and conditions can be conducted instantly.

  • Actions: Stitchflow also enables easy actions and remediation. Teams can share live boards and download CSVs, take single actions on any data field from any tool, or even bulk-remediate filtered data conditions across multiple records with just one click.

  • Proactive Protection: Once tools are connected, Stitchflow detects gaps across your environment for you. With more than 100+ automated checks across employee management, resource drift, security and compliance and application usage, Stitchflow identifies active gaps in your environment, that you can remediate with a single click.

  • Ad-hoc analyses: Stitchflow also supports ad-hoc analyses where teams can find any information they need instantly across every tool. With more than 60 templates for every common IT use case from onboarding/offboarding to license management, IT teams can build any view required to instantly address their need.

Join our free pilot!

As described above, Stitchflow is purpose built to give IT teams full control over their IT environments.

Stitchflow connects to over 50 IT tools and automatically applies over 100 checks across user access, drift in enrollment between groups, apps and channels, device health, compliance checks, and unused apps. Stitchflow identifies exactly what needs to be fixed, enables remediation in bulk, and then automates maintenance so gaps are addressed as soon as they are found.

20+ IT teams from incredible companies have been using Stitchflow since May and are seeing daily value - hours saved every week in spreadsheets, quick identification of gaps in their environments, and the ability to rectify painful issues in bulk.

Stitchflow’s free trial is commitment-light, requiring no set-up; All you have to do is authenticate into your tools and Stitchflow generates a gap analysis. You can instantly address issues and have confidence in the continuous correctness of your IT environment going forward. You can get a demo or try out Stitchflow by signing up below!