The Top Apps for Businesses in 2020

A recent report explores which new and legacy apps could help you grow your business.

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By John Boitnott Originally published

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Apps are transforming business today. They improve accessibility, offer convenient data storage options and help streamline operations, too. But apps are only effective if you're using ones that are right for your business. If you're not sure where to start, looking at what apps are most popular among other businesses could be a good place to start.

In its annual Businesses @ Work report, cloud identity company Okta releases an annual ranking of the most popular apps for businesses. The company analyzed data over the last year from customers that use Okta to log into their devices. Its clients range from startups to large companies with hundreds of thousands of employees across industries. The report tabulates the most widely used and the fastest growing apps businesses use, which might help you learn what you're missing.

The most widely used apps

When it comes to the top-ranked apps by the number of users, Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce hold the top two spots. Amazon Web Services and G Suite come in at the third and fourth most popular spots, respectively.

But when ranking apps according to the number of monthly active users, things change up a bit. Office 365 retains its top spot, but Workday, ServiceNow, G Suite and Salesforce follow behind in spots two through five. Office 365 has almost twice as many users as G Suite, but G Suite's growth over the past year is higher: The app's active monthly customers have increased by 50 percent, while Office 365 has only grown by 38 percent.

Related: 9 Free Apps That Immediately Make Life Easier

Slack and Zoom both ranked in the top 10 for the most popular apps. Both of these collaboration apps are popular even among businesses already using an app like Microsoft Office. The evidence of their effectiveness is in their growth: Zoom experienced 76 percent year-over-year growth. These apps are transforming how businesses operate, and they're helping remote teams become more efficient or just improving in-office operations.

Other highly popular and widely-used apps include:

  • Developer tools: Atlassian Product Suite, GitHub, PagerDuty

  • HR tools: Workday, BambooHR, UltiPro

  • Video conferencing: Zoom, Cisco Webex, RingCentral

  • Online learning: LinkedIn Learning, Grammarly, and Pluralsight

Fastest-growing apps

In 2019, several apps stand out from the crowd due to their tremendous growth. Snowflake is the far-and-away winner with 273 percent year-over-year growth. If you haven't yet caught onto the Snowflake trend yet, Snowflake is a cloud data platform that allows for integrated data engineering, secure data exchange, app development and more. Some of its top customers include CapitalOne, Lionsgate, Overstock and Nielsen.

Opsgenie, Google Cloud, and Splunk follow just behind Snowflake, each with over 100 percent year-over-year growth. Other fast-growing apps to watch include KnowBe4, Looker, Envoy and Freshservice.

The rising importance of security

The report also uncovered a notable trend: The increased use of security and data tools. As businesses increasingly use data to shape their businesses, they turn to apps like Snowflake and Looker to help them evaluate that data and make informed business decisions. But with increased use of data comes an increased need for security. Those security tools fall into four categories:

  • Personal protection

  • Device protection

  • Network protection

  • Business infrastructure protection

Sixty-seven percent of Okta customers are using at least one security tool from those four categories, and one in four customers are using a password manager or some other measure to protect them, personally, from phishing attacks. KnowBe4, a cyber security app, was the fifth fastest-growing app in 2019, having increased its customer accounts to over 28,000 during its 55 percent year-over-year growth.

Related: 5 Security Trends to Watch in 2020

This element of protecting a person becomes increasingly important for small businesses when they depend on cloud technologies. Businesses that use G Suite, Slack, and Zoom put their data into a position where it's accessible with a username and password. Because of this vulnerability, increased security and personal account protection becomes more important than ever.

Using apps to build your business

If you're ready to take your business to the next level, consider what's working for other businesses. These fast-growing, widely used apps offer security, cloud storage, streamlined accessibility and many other benefits. Adopting them for your company and team members can help improve performance and efficiency as you continue to build your business.

Related: 10 Tricks for Using Slack to Execute Your Business Strategy Like a Pro

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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