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New Report Reveals Most Popular Apps in Business Today Microsoft Office remains very strong but is no longer dominant. Competitors are emerging.

By John Boitnott

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Enterprise Identity management company Okta just published its fifth Businesses @ Work report. It identifies some of the most widely used apps as well as the fastest-growing apps of 2018.

The big winners this year's report included heavyweights like Microsoft Office 365, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce, as well as fast-growing upstarts like Google's "G Suite," Zoom and Slack.

Okta examined anonymous data from the company's Integration Network, with over 100 million registered users, based on its over 5,500 integrations with cloud, mobile and web-based apps.

The company also partnered with Qualtrics to conduct a survey of over 1,200 knowledge workers to examine how they work today, and how that work may be evolving. The data and survey responses together paint a clearer picture of what apps businesses and people use each day, and how they get work done.

Related: Microsoft's Project Bali Seeks to Give You Control of Your Data

Microsoft Office is still very strong, but competitors are emerging.

Okta analyzed overall app popularity by compiling the number of customers deploying an app, and the number of active users using it (people who used an app at least once in 30 days). The report lists the top 15 apps in each of these two categories.

The most popular app according to both sets of metrics was Microsoft Office 365, which increased its lead compared to last year's reported figures. Salesforce and Amazon WS followed, with Google's G-Suite finishing fourth.

Fast-growing video conferencing solution Zoom entered the list for the first time, debuting in ninth place. The messaging and collaboration app Slack took one step up in the rankings for both metrics.

One of the clearest trends this year is the rise of Microsoft competitors, says Ming Wu, Okta's Vice President of Data and Analytics.

"Years ago, if you bought Microsoft you were 100 percent with it. Today what we see is even if you have Microsoft, you see a plethora of the other different types of solutions that Microsoft competes directly with (rising in popularity), whether that's online sharing tools like Box, or video conferencing like Zoom. We see a ton of customers that have Microsoft yet still have G Suite. So why is that? That's really, we believe customers are saying, "Hey, I want to build that experience for my end users and end users are asking for this.'"

Since both Slack and Zoom are exploring or actively involved in preparations for IPOs, this could be good news for the companies and their investors. That's especially true given the potential for further market expansion. According to the survey, only 16 percent of respondents had heard of Slack and 19 percent were aware of Zoom.

Enterprise-level business apps Workday and ServiceNow took the second and third positions in the "most active users" category. Slack makes an appearance on that list too, but Zoom failed to crack the top 15.

And what about Skype? The Zoom competitor may have more brand awareness, but that doesn't translate to greater popularity. Survey respondents named Skype both least favorite and "most stressful" app.

Related: Stop Fooling Yourself. Productivity Tools Like Slack Are Secret Enemies of Collaboration

Security emerges as a hot trend in the enterprise.

Over on the "Fast Growing Apps" list, cybersecurity is the hot trend, with those apps growing most rapidly in market share and usage.

KnowBe4, LastPass and Proofpoint took the top three positions, respectively. KnowBe4 offers security awareness training and targets a strongly identified need. Password encryption and storage company LastPass ranked second with 132 percent growth over the prior year's data. Proofpoint, an email security and security awareness training provider, claimed the third spot with 122 percent growth. Rounding out the top five were JAMF Pro, and again Zoom.

Wu says this trend towards hardened identity-driven security is an indication that things like security breaches are top of mind for the people in charge of information safety at companies.

"In the survey, we found out that 40 percent of people use the same two to four passwords across the board. I'm kind of one of them. I have a very, very long complex password, but I just keep reusing it. So because of this type of trend, companies have to invest more in security, and they're also investing not just in security applications, but they're strengthening and deploying things like multi factor authentication so that you can use a weaker password per se, but you're also protected by like a machine generated code through Google Authenticate to verify service."

Related: One of the Most Popular Password Security Companies Was Hacked

Microsoft's days of office dominance may be numbered.

Results of both the worker survey and the app statistics further demonstrate that Google and other startups are gaining ground on Microsoft.

The data shows companies are adopting Google's apps at a faster rate and its user base is expanding more quickly than Microsoft's. Moreover, knowledge workers said Gmail is the app they wish their company would adopt the most. Companies using developer tools such as Github, New Relic or Atlassian were three times more likely to deploy G-Suite than MS Office.

Will this mean that Microsoft's long-time dominance in the office is truly starting to wane? Only time will tell. Perhaps more importantly, the underlying and recurring theme here is choice.

According to the Okta data, a typical company used an average of 52 apps three years ago. That's now skyrocketed to 112. So, the data shows that the longer companies use apps, the more they want to try newer apps. One thing is for certain; at today's modern workplace, people love choice, and that's not stopping.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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