The inaugural Businesses at Work report from mobility and identity management company Okta confirms what many have already claimed: that Office 365 is the granddaddy of all business enterprise apps.

But that wasn’t always the case. Between Nov. 2013 and June 2015 it surpassed not only Salesforce as the most used app in the cloud, but also pushed past Google Apps and Box in a survey of nearly 4000 off-the-shelf business apps.

Principle Findings

The results, released yesterday, were based on anonymized findings of Okta’s dataset of 4000 applications as well as the information from Okta's work with custom integrations and daily authentications and verifications.

Okta notes that its customers are more likely to be cloud- and mobile-friendly than the average and so the results should be interpreted with this in mind.

There were four principal findings, all of which shed light on how organizations are using the cloud and the apps that are available to them:

1. Size Doesn’t Matter

The size of an organization is no longer an indicator of how many apps it will use. According to Okta’s findings, most organizations used between 11 and 16 apps off-the-shelf with an increase in the last years of 40 percent in the number of organizations using multi-factor authentication for at least one of those apps. The cloud has acted as a real leveler for this, as organizational size is no longer a factor on access to apps. 

2. Customer Enablement

Organizations connect with partners and contractors through cloud-based applications and portals. This trend was underlined by the number of secured identities that customers used externally — or outside the firewall — which grew by 284 percent.

3. Security Questions

With new authentication options now available on the market, organizations are moving away from traditional authentication questions such as birthplace and maiden names. Instead organizations are buying into multi-factor authentication options like SMS, as well as push notification and watches.

4. Providing Value

If app providers don’t consistently provide new and enhanced value to users, they will lose out to rising stars. If it looks as if certain apps have established themselves as unassailable leaders in their space — Salesforce for CRM, AWS for infrastructure — remember that others that once looked unassailable are losing ground as we see Google Apps do to Office 365 in every category.

The Asia-Pacific region leads the world in terms of software adoption, particularly mobile software adoption, with nearly a quarter of end user regularly logging in from mobile devices. The average number of apps used per business in the region is 15, which is comparable to the US and ahead of Europe, Middle East and Africa, all of average 12 apps.

Not Too Surprising

Not many of the results are surprising. Office 365's gaining traction has been clear for quite some time, a result of its wide-ranging apps and multiple pricing plans that make it attractive at all levels.

At the start of the year Okta noted Office 365 was the most used application among its user base, measured by raw number of authentications.

This makes sense as Office 365 includes email, collaboration, calendaring and more, tools which are necessary in day to day work.

Okta also discovered that:

  • Office 365 is used across companies of all sizes
  • Organizations in the banking, food, beverage and manufacturing verticals prefer it over Google Apps
  • Google Apps is the preferred choice among advertising firms, educational institutions and software companies

With 33 percent of businesses expected to go to cloud-based office suites by 2017 and 60 percent by 2022, expect to see future shake ups in this space.

The race is on and it’s anyone’s market.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  garryknight