Cloud App Use Rises Among Companies of All Sizes

Edward GatelySize no longer plays a role in how many cloud or mobile apps a company uses, and even the smallest organizations have access to the same tools, services and apps as the big ones do.

That’s according to the findings of Okta’s inaugural Business at Work report, based on data compiled from the company’s network of 4,000 pre-integrated apps, and millions of global daily authentications and verifications.

Bill Fitzgerald, Okta’s vice president of channel sales, tells Channel Partners the findings present both challenges and opportunities for the channel. Most businesses are now using between 11 and 16 off-the-shelf cloud apps.

“Challenges will definitely be to keep up with what’s popular – our data shows how quickly apps can gain and fall in favor – and being able to continually provide valuable counsel around those quickly changing apps and services,” he said. “As for opportunities, we’re seeing the digitization of business happening rapidly. As companies are thinking of building digital platforms for consumers, partners and customers, they are rapidly turning to the cloud to manage identity to provide the best user experience possible.”

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Microsoft Office 365 is now the most deployed cloud-based app globally, providing evidence that the app is successfully bringing large enterprises to the cloud. Salesforce held the top spot until January.

The report shows recent growth in the popularity of Dropbox, GoDaddy, GoToMeeting and Adobe Creative Cloud, while Yammer and ADP Portal are no longer as popular. Also, Slack was the fastest-growing app within Okta’s network from May to August.

“We all think of the big names – Salesforce, Office 365, Google Apps, Box – as the services companies will actually subscribe to, but there [are] clearly so many more,” Fitzgerald said.

Salesforce is the top app for sales and marketing, as is …

… Amazon Web Services for infrastructure, ADP for human resources and Box for content storage; however, with new innovations and options arriving daily, “no one’s spot at the top is safe,” according to the report.

Businesses are making aggressive efforts to enable their partners, customers and contractors through new cloud-based apps, websites or portals, the report states.

“We’re seeing companies of all sizes, industries and regions depend on cloud and mobile to propel their businesses forward,” said Todd McKinnon, Okta’s CEO.

Businesses are rapidly adding security measures to protect access to the sensitive data employees are putting into cloud apps and services, and often accessing from mobile devices.

With new authentication options on the market, companies and employees are moving away from requiring confirmation about birthplaces and bloodlines. The security question as a form of verification has dropped 14 percent since April 2014, with businesses now are bringing on multi-factor authentication options like SMS, which increased 8 percent in the same time frame, and push notifications for phones and smart watches. Biometric authentication likely will be the “next big factor” of authentication for businesses, according to the report.

As companies put a premium on security, developers are creating apps with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) incorporated from the start. Six times more apps are SAML-enabled today than two years ago.

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