Users turn to diverse pool of apps as post-pandemic work styles emerge

Photo by Charles Deluvio

Okta has announced the findings of its ninth annual Businesses at Work report, which reveals that business users have been turning to a wide range of apps as post-pandemic travel and workstyles evolved in the past year.

In APAC specifically, the apps clocking the fastest growth by unique users are security apps, electronic signature apps and cloud platforms.

The yearly report offers a holistic look into how organizations and people work today, showcasing the applications and services that modern workforces use to be productive.

“As economies opened up in the past year, businesses and their users turned to a wide range of apps to get work done, from travel apps to book business trips to security tools to shore up cyber defenses,” said Ben Goodman, Okta’s Senior Vice President and General Manager for Asia Pacific.

“This is a reflection of the new work environments that have emerged, along with the needs of a hybrid work arrangement that is here to stay.”

Most popular app categories

All statistics mentioned henceforth are taken from Okta’s Businesses at Work 2023 report.

  • Travel apps were among the hottest categories globally in 2022, as business trips resumed with the lifting of pandemic restrictions in many destinations. According to the report, these apps enjoyed a 43% year-on-year (YoY) growth by number of customers and 197% growth by unique users across all industries.
  • At the same time, business supplies — a category that was not in the top 10 in last year’s report — showed tremendous YoY growth worldwide, with a 35% increase in customers and a 77% increase in unique users.
  • Design software continues to rise as it became the third fastest-growing category worldwide this year with 31% YoY growth by number of customers, after chart-topping 39% YoY growth last year globally. In Asia-Pacific, design software is big as well, with Australia seeing a 27% bounce in YoY customer growth.
  • Asia-Pacific is driving significant growth in security as well. In the region, the use of security tools increased 85% YoY by unique users, while the use of electronic signature tools and developer tools by unique users increased 61% and 55% YoY, respectively. Cloud platforms grew among unique users by 50% YoY, while use of analytics tools increased among unique users by 47% YoY.

The hottest apps:

  • In APAC, Microsoft 365 is the most popular app by number of users. Amazon Web Services ranks second, and Google Workspace comes in third.
  • The APAC region is heavily focused on security and developer tools this year. Jamf Pro, Netskope, LastPass, and ZScaler battled for supremacy in the security category: Jamf Pro posted 57% YoY customer growth and 118% YoY growth in unique users.
  • Globally this year, the fastest growing apps feature a diverse cast, providing expertise in security, communication, corporate travel, HR, cloud-app development, and collaboration.
  • Top among the fastest growing apps globally is Kandji, an Apple mobile device management tool, which posted 172% YoY growth by number of customers. Kandji, an Okta Ventures portfolio company, enables IT administrators to automate repetitive tasks and introduce new features to the device management space.

Growth in multi-cloud usage

Transformation efforts that accelerated during the pandemic have helped businesses get the boost they need for more efficient hybrid workforce support, more reliable security, and more seamless global collaboration.

In this regard, the growth in multi-cloud adoption that has been clear since 2017 shows no sign of slowing down, and the favorite pairing of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) continues to grow.

  • While AWS remains dominant as both a single-cloud platform and as part of many organizations’ multi-cloud strategies, there is also exciting growth from other providers on the horizon.
  • Google Cloud Platform is growing at an impressive clip, with a 40% YoY increase in number of customers and 60% increase in unique users.
  • Microsoft Azure grew its worldwide customer base by 10% YoY and its unique users by 16% YoY.

Apps for our lives
The line between work and personal life is blurrier than ever, so are apps that offer combined corporate and personal usage.

  • Digital payment gateway Paypal and newcomers Venmo and Stripe are finding strong footing in top finance and banking apps.
  • For health and wellness, FitBit is tops by number of customers globally. Interestingly, the two fastest growing apps in this category by number of customers — LiveWell (up 32% YoY by number of customers) and Modern Health (up 30% YoY by number of customers) — focus on mental health.
  • In the world of social media, LinkedIn holds the top spot, while TeamSnap is the fastest growing by number of customers.

Security at work
Remote and hybrid workforces are here to stay, so protecting network access from the home office and places such as a coffee shop is a top priority for many companies. Businesses are stepping up higher-assurance factors in their MFA deployments as they move away from perimeter defenses that are no longer adequate for dynamic, cloud-driven environments.

  • Okta’s study has found that low-assurance security questions globally are experiencing the slowest growth across the board (3% YoY by number of customers), while high-assurance security keys/biometrics (including WebAuthentication) are growing more quickly — 46% YoY growth by number of customers, and a chart-topping 211% by unique users.
  • Okta customers are approaching Zero Trust strategically, with solutions that target user, device, and network perspectives.
    • In the network context, we’re seeing a 147% increase in the use of risk-based policies over the past two years.
    • From a user context, we’re seeing 60% growth in the number of customers implementing WebAuthn, a new global standard for password-free web authentication.
    • And on the device front, we’re seeing a 21% increase in the number of customers deploying device-trust configurations.

“The Businesses at Work report delivers unique insights into the ways businesses have used apps to adapt to the new workstyle dynamics in the post-pandemic era,” said Goodman. “In this new normal, it will be crucial to ensure these apps are resilient, so they can be accessed reliably and securely to drive business goals over the long term.”