Okta 2020 Businesses@Work report: security and data apps see growth, companies want best of breed

Always interesting to see data-driven studies showing what apps organizations are trending towards.

With Jack attending IGEL Disrupt 2020 in Nashville this week, it was my chance to attend the latest Okta Businesses@Work event and review the report.

The report provides a look into what the most popular applications in the enterprise from the past year were, with Okta comparing it to the previous years’ reports to point out what apps experienced the most growth.

Additionally, executives from Atlassian, Splunk, and Snowflake attended the breakfast event where they discussed what customers wanted from their apps today.

Collaboration app usage slows, while security and data sees strong growth

The data for the Businesses@Work report comes from an anonymized review of Okta’s 7,400+ customer base from November 1, 2018 through October 31, 2019.

When looking at the most popular apps by total number of customers, unsurprisingly, Office 365 blows everything else away, with Salesforce, AWS, and G Suite filling out the top four. In fact, all four continue to dominate this portion of the report year after year. Atlassian’s suite of apps took the fifth spot for the first time; only Jira appeared in the 2019 report at number eight. When comparing apps from a monthly active unique users’ point of view, the top apps shift a little bit. Office 365 remains in the number-one spot, but Workday, ServiceNow, G Suite, and Salesforce round out the top five.

The fastest growing apps for this year show that data and security are foremost on customer minds. Snowflake, a cloud database app, experienced 273% growth, with KnowBe4 (89%), and Jamf Pro (82%) appearing on the list. The popular video conferencing app, Zoom, also remains among the top apps (though down from the year before) with 76% growth. 

Vendors are working to make their apps work across the various cloud vendors as more organizations look to migrate to the cloud. According to this report, multi-cloud deployments are a thing, but remain small, with 5% of Okta customers integrating with more than one Infrastructure as a Service vendor. Will be interesting to see if this number grows next year. 

Organizations are using more and more apps, with the average number of apps per company now at 88, which is a 6% growth year over year. Customers look for best of breed apps, rather than selecting a product suite from a mega vendor like Microsoft. About 32% of organizations use an app like Slack or Zoom with Office 365, while 44% use Salesforce alongside Office 365, and 30% also use G Suite.

For security apps, Okta breaks it out into four different layers: people, network, device, and infrastructure. The top apps used by each are KnowBe4, Palo Alto Networks Prisma Access, Jamf Pro (not a surprise to see Jamf doing so well as Macs continue to see their presence in the enterprise grow), and Infrastructure, respectively. When it comes to which layer customers invest in, it’s people first at 42%, then network and device tied at 33%, and infrastructure at 22%.

Diya Jolly, Okta’s chief product office, said that many people-focused security tools also secure the infrastructure or other layer as well. For example, context aware or continuous authentication access looks beyond the person and also at the device they’re using, the network they’re on, etc. It reduces the need to invest in the other layers. CISOs see the people security layer as the place to focus their spend, with the use of password managers growing 84% from 2019.

Okta also looked at how companies deploy multi-factor authentication, with 2019 showing that customers increasingly prefer to use just one factor alongside a password. But it’s still close: 25.5% use just one factor, while 25.4% use two and 24.7% employ three. This could be viewed as admins working on improving the user experience and reducing “factor sprawl.” Among Okta customers, it’s no surprise that Okta Verify is the most used second factor, with SMS placing second, but showing a decline (hooray!).

What customers want from their apps

During the breakfast event, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon and Diya held a round-table discussion with the executives in attendance, Atlassian President Jay Simons, Splunk CTO Tim Tully, and Snowflake Vice President, Product Christian Kleinerman. They spoke about what they see happening in the marketplace and what customers have said they want from vendors.

Collaboration tools continue to see a lot of growth in the Okta Businesses@Work report, but now it appears to be slowing down, with the suggestion being that we’re now quite saturated in the market. There are so many different apps to choose from, whether you want a simple chat tool to a video conferencing app.

Chris Miller, the vice president of security from Capital Group, providing a customer voice in the room, explained that we’re also seeing a change in how apps get deployed. No longer is IT solely in charge of selecting the one collaboration app everyone gets to use; increasingly, deployment is driven by business needs and what each business group wants. For example, a company’s development team might use Slack, while another uses Symphony, and then Jabber handles cross-group collaboration communication.

IT is now being tasked with adapting to handling this sort of “bring your own apps” situation by ensuring that each app and the data it touches is secure. One way this can be done is by providing guidance on what apps are allowed or not. For example, IT could say if the app lacks modern authentication integrations for identity management, the app isn’t allowed. This is a concept we’ve been talking about for years, so now it’s interesting to hear more anecdotes about this happening out in the world.  

Regarding the mega vendors, Todd spoke about how while they’ll continue to dominate the EUC and elsewhere, smaller vendors can still find their niche as they can fit apps on top of the bigger apps. Customers are increasingly looking for best of breed apps, rather than just getting everything they need from a single vendor. This is where smaller vendors can stand out, by showing how their apps solve a customer’s very specific problem. With apps becoming more API based, customers are now more easily able to swap out vendors for another if the app they currently use doesn’t perfectly solve their business needs.

We’re seeing a huge demand from customers for data apps because they don’t want to fall behind their competitors. At the same time, customers are worried about the security and compliance of the apps. No one wants to be named in the next data breach. Cloud vendors also now must worry about this, too. In the past, vendors offloaded data security to customers since their apps were on prem, but the opposite is now true for SaaS.

Lastly, zero trust came up multiple times whenever anyone mentioned securing apps. Chris spoke about how the best of breed approach includes security apps. Customers are looking for stronger validation of employee identities and the devices they use before being able to access company data.

Closing thoughts

The above is what I found the most interesting and relevant to our slice of EUC, but there’s plenty more in Okta’s 2020 Businesses@Work report for those interested. If you’re curious about how apps did last year, check out Jack’s dive into the 2019 Businesses@Work report.

Okta Oktane is coming up in just a few short months, so we’ll be curious to see what they announce there. At the 2019 event, Okta was working on adding more contextual data into access decisions, a topic which came up during the event this week.

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