Founders in Focus: Jody Shapiro of Productiv

Each month, we chat with a founder of a company in the Okta Ventures portfolio for our Founders in Focus series to take a closer look at the companies at the cutting edge of security, identity, and privacy. This month, we’re hearing from Jody Shapiro, founder and CEO at Productiv.

What is Productiv and what is your mission?

Productiv is an enterprise SaaS Management Platform. Our mission is to unlock the power of data to drive productivity at work. Our insights and analytics help enterprises improve the employee software experience and maximize the value of SaaS investments.

What were you doing prior to Productiv that led you to this moment?

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with the brightest minds and the most creative people solving really hard problems. I’ve worked on speech technology at Microsoft, video conferencing at PictureTel, video processing at Silicon Graphics, and then data-driven marketing tech at Google. These roles all involved building high-performance, cutting-edge technology to solve clear customer needs.

Before Productiv, I led the Google Analytics enterprise business. There are a limited number of products you can work on that are truly global in scale and have industry-level impact. Google Analytics is one of those—it’s used by ~70% of all websites and is now the standard for marketing analytics.

When my co-founders Ashish Aggarwal, Munish Gandhi, and I got together to start Productiv, our key insight was that IT is in the midst of another huge evolution, driven by data. The operational side of IT adopted data long ago, including many recent advances with log processing, application performance monitoring, and data pipelines. But the people-facing side of IT, all of the applications that people use at work every day, has not yet adopted data as a driver for better decision making.

Just as Marketing went through a huge evolution to become much more data driven, much more efficient, and able to truly drive the core of the business… it’s now IT’s turn.

What is Productiv’s solution and what challenge does it solve in the market?

Productiv is an enterprise SaaS Management Platform that helps businesses understand how their employees engage with software. Companies spend enormous amounts providing people with the tools they need to get their work done, but these are open-loop investments without data to show how business value is delivered. Are people becoming more productive at work? Do they have the right tools? Do the tools work well together? Can people collaborate easily? These are challenging analytics questions, especially given that the data you need to answer them is scattered across potentially hundreds of SaaS tools.

How does Productiv’s solution stand apart from others in the market?

The best SaaS deployment strategies require collaboration across business units like IT, Finance, Procurement, HR, and the functional organizations like Sales, Engineering, Marketing, Operations, and more, to ensure the best possible employee experience. Until Productiv, this collaboration often meant sharing app-by-app spreadsheets and Excel files, which slows business down. But now, Productiv itself is a place where these business units collaborate to understand how SaaS is being used across the organization, because of the depth and breadth of the application usage and engagement data that we provide.

At Productiv, we take a data- and analytics-centric approach in our focus on application engagement. We give IT leaders a picture of their SaaS environment based on how people are actually using applications, and this maximizes the employee software experience. When SaaS management started, it was narrowly looking at licenses purchased vs. licenses provisioned for each application. If you were lucky, you might actually see who was logging into each one. What we realized is that the long-term value is buried in understanding every user and how they interact with each feature of any application, and aggregating that usage data in a way that’s actionable for IT. With these analytics, our automated workflows enable stronger application adoption, smarter renewal decisions, and more intelligent license allocations.

How is Productiv working with Okta? What support do you look for in a corporate partner?

We had three core elements we were seeking in a partner: A shared passion for our problem space, a complementary technical approach, and an organization we felt we could deeply partner with. We found all three in Okta.

Okta Ventures is not just a strategic investor in our Series B. We work closely with Okta to provide our joint customers with real-time comprehensive visibility into their entire SaaS portfolio and identification of opportunities to expand the number of applications managed by Okta. We help people make data-driven decisions about their Okta deployment strategy, with deep user engagement insights for each SaaS application and with full portfolio visibility. We’re also working with the Okta Product team to develop deeper integrations across our products to benefit our joint customers.

We’re also proud to have Okta as a Productiv customer. Productiv enables Okta to make informed and data-driven strategic decisions on Okta’s applications, ensuring Okta employees are using the best technologies. The insights and usage data enables Okta’s Procurement and IT teams to partner effectively to optimize for productivity, minimize wasted spend, and reduce security risks.

Why did Productiv want to work with Okta?

A little over 10 years ago, Okta’s founders, Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest, correctly foresaw the rise of the SaaS ecosystem and the identity explosion that would accompany the SaaS explosion. It would simply be impractical for each user to remember a password for every SaaS application, and the IT load of managing user credentials for every app while the number of applications kept rising was clearly not scalable.

Okta and Productiv serve the same customers, the same forward-thinking people who sought solutions for identity sprawl, and are now thinking about managing the sprawl of SaaS applications. Partnerships are key in a distributed ecosystem, and together with Okta we solve adjacent problems for our shared customers to truly create more customer value.