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It can be hard to know what technologies are most popular in your workplace. Depending on who you ask, workers are looking for communication tools, or collaboration tools or content management tools, that typically align around the functions that workers, or teams need to get the job done in the most efficient manner. 

Looking at the Usage Trends

Over the past four years, we have watched the evolution of Slack usage and the going competition with Microsoft Teams and while Microsoft claims a far greater number of users than Slack, Slack points out that Teams is largely driven by subscriptions to Office 365, and the fact that enterprise editions automatically come with Teams.

The result is that many vendors look to reports from independent research organizations like Gartner, Forrester or Nucleus to see what technology is trending in the digital workplace. There are other reports too from vendors that have also gained in reputation over the years. One such report is the [email protected] report, by Okta, which has recently published its 6th edition.

What is interesting about this report specifically, is that over the past six years it has covered the changes and rise and fall of different apps and trends. This year, for example, Lucidchart and GitHub both secure “top 15” spots on the most popular apps by number of customers for the first time.

And after ranking well as an HR tool in previous years, the human capital management app UltiPro makes it onto the most popular apps by active unique users for the first time.  But the top apps by number of monthly active unique users goes as follows:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Salesforce
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • G Suite
  • Atlassian Product Suite
  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Box
  • SAP Concur
  • Cisco Meraki
  • DocuSign
  • Zendesk
  • GitHub
  • Dropbox
  • Lucidchart

The list was compiled by Okta by analyzing app usage by more than 100 million users across 7,400 organizations.

Related Article: Office 365: 9 Baked-In Productivity Tools That Workers Are Using

Office 365 And G Suite

Over the years, it’s been nearly impossible to dislodge the top-ranking apps. When looking at app popularity by number of customers, Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce have held spots #1 and #2 respectively for six years in a row. For the past three reports, Amazon Web Services and G Suite have held tight in spots #3 and #4. There are many different conclusions, but its conclusions around G Suite and Office 365 are interesting. The report reads as follows, “Office 365 still has nearly twice the number of customers as G Suite. But G Suite shows slightly faster year-over-year growth, increasing its number of customers by 37%, versus Office 365’s increase of 36%... Looking at active unique users, G Suite’s year-over-year growth stands out at 50%. Office 365 has seen 38% growth.”

More to the point, over the year nearly 31% of Okta customers with Microsoft Office 365 also used Google G Suite. That's up from 28% the year prior and 21% in 2016. One other aside that is also worth mentioning is that this year’s fastest growing apps show us that apps tend to grow in category waves. A few years ago, the #1 fastest growing apps — Slack and Zoom.

Related Article: 10 Keys to Microsoft Teams Governance Success

What Apps Workers Are Using

However, the doubling up of Office 365 and G Suite is interesting, if not unexpected and something that has been noted over the years. Recently, when we looked productivity apps in Office 365, we saw that the principle needs were communication, collaboration and content surfacing. So, is it the same with other productivity suites? We asked several people using these tools but there doesn’t appear to be a consensus.

Crissy Bogusz is lead graphic design and motion graphics artist with companies like Vogue International and Sony. She said that in her workplace experience two of the elements of G Suite are particularly important, especially when combined with another vendor that appears on the Okta list, notably Dropbox. She said that she has noticed Google Docs and GoogleDrive making a prominent appearance in workplace file management. Google Docs/Drive and Dropbox work at their best when used in collaboration with other project management tools such as Slack and Trello. “There are of course many other project management applications such as Asana, AirTable and Basecamp (to name but a few). But Slack is my preferred for team 'communication and project updates,' and Trello is my preferred for multiple task and project management, and archiving," she said.

There are other tools too that are useful like Dropbox Paper which allows users to create interactive documents very easily and export or print them in the format you desire. “The online Dropbox interface is not the most user friendly, so I would highly recommend the Dropbox Smart Business function, as it allows you to view all Dropbox files on your desktop and takes up cloud space storage only — with the option of choosing which files you would also like stored on your desktop,” she added. Dropbox is also great at recovering lost files and syncs changes made to documents quicker than Google Drive, said Bogusz. However, the free or individual subscriptions of Dropbox don't offer the largest amount of TB stage but having a business account will offer you near unlimited cloud space which, according to her, makes it worth it. 

Hammerton Barbados is a luxury villa and apartment rental agency based in the UK. George Hammerton is the company director. His experience has been, that as the company grew, they decided they needed tools which allow to workers to collaborate without thinking about it. “We needed to change to a collaboration-positive suite and for that we went with the undisputed king of collaboration for remote team and that was Google Docs,” he said. From that, they started Google Docs for just about everything and it has succeeded in removing the friction by removing the need to wait turn to update a spreadsheet, or having to call remote workers to see if they were in a document. “These days our portable office is made up of iPhones, MacBooks, Google Suite, Microsoft Outlook (we all still like a native email client, call us old-fashioned) and a Web Browser. With a simple set of the right tools we can now work from anywhere, together,” he added.

"Everyone is on the internet these days which makes it imperative that you use office suites that are cloud-based,” Anh Trinh from GeekWithLaptop told us. There are a number of reliable ones that are cloud-based also free, I’m talking about Google Docs and Google Sheets of course. According to Trinh, Google Docs and Sheets are superior to other office suites since they are more user-friendly and they provide a variety of useful add-ons that even Microsoft can’t provide. And since its cloud-based applications, co-workers can send files easily to one another. They don’t even have to upload these files which also saves a lot of time.