Remote workers are having to juggle a mind-boggling number of different applications

remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock / maryna rodyukova)

Employees are being asked to juggle a broader range of applications than ever as a result of the shift to remote working, new data suggests.

As per the latest report from identity management firm Okta, businesses now deploy 88 distinct applications on average, rising to 155 in the technology sector (up 17% in the past year). The top 10% of companies by scale of application deployment, meanwhile, are said to utilize 199 different apps or more.

This metric has been trending upwards for years, but the pattern has only been accentuated by the pandemic, which saw businesses scramble to bring in collaboration, security and employee engagement software in a bid to support a newly remote workforce.

“When it comes to interacting with co-workers, customers, partners, vendors and others on a common platform, we see that for many companies a ‘good enough’ solution isn’t actually good enough. We’re seeing that ‘one size fits all’ is not fitting, at all,” said Okta.

Applications galore

According to a poll of 9,400 Okta customers, Microsoft 365 remains the application suite deployed by the largest percentage of companies, but cloud-based services that allow businesses to operate remotely have leapt up the list.

Recording 35% year-on-year growth, AWS is now the second most used platform. Meanwhile, video conferencing service Zoom and e-signature firm Docusign have surged into fifth and eighth place respectively, unseating a number of established incumbents.

“This year, as the pandemic became a global concern, our worlds were flooded with change. We turned to technology to stay afloat,” explained Okta.

“Families scrambled to get equipped, companies rushed to support their remote workforces and quickly develop new online experiences for customers. And as the pandemic accelerated, tech solutions once preferred only by ‘early adopters’ because survival tools for companies across all industries.”

The gravity of the change brought about by the pandemic is also underlined by the top ten fastest growing applications of the year, nine of which are brand new to the list.

Amazon Business leads the way with 341% growth year-on-year, followed by collaboration applications Miro (+301%) and Figma (+236%) and project management platform (+149%).

Security products Fortinet FortiGate, VMware Carbon Black and 1Password also recorded significant growth this year as companies sought out ways to secure corporate data outside of the traditional security perimeter.

While remote workers may benefit from a variety of tools, as businesses seek out best-in-breed examples in each category, the proliferation of applications will also pose distinct challenges for less tech-savvy staff. Balancing this equation will be a central challenge for businesses moving forward, with remote working set to continue for the foreseeable.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.