6 surprise wrinkles in enterprise cloud app adoption


The latest study by identity and access management vendor Okta surfaces some findings about enterprise cloud app adoption that may surprise you

Surprised OMG shocked woman pop art style © studiostoks - Fotolia.comSome striking and frankly unexpected findings have emerged from the latest analysis of cloud app usage at customers of single sign-on vendor Okta. The study is based on analyzing anonymized data across its 3000+ customer base as their users log in and out of cloud and mobile applications every day.

With a skew towards organizations that are accessing multiple cloud and mobile applications, the Okta study gives a unique insight into the behavior of early enterprise adopters of cloud computing — and some of the findings about enterprise cloud app adoption may surprise you.

1. Google vs Microsoft? Why choose?

Instead of standardizing on either Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps, a surprising number of enterprises are licensing both of these cloud rivals. In over 40% of cases, this was due to different departments choosing one over the other, while another 30% were signing up for Office 365 simply to license the desktop apps: “The easiest way for us to license Office and keep it updated is via Office 365,” as one explained.

The phenomenon isn’t evenly spread, with around a quarter of software and Internet businesses using both, while only 8% of finance and 4% of construction companies did so. It was most common in industries that have eagerly adopted Google Apps — Internet, software, marketing and education — which may be a sign that Google’s offering has been gradually expanding its footprint against an incumbent Microsoft alternative. But Office 365 remains the leading cloud app by far in the Okta customer base, with overall growth outpacing Google and more than doubling year on year.

2. On-premise stalwarts are thriving in the cloud

Microsoft isn’t the only incumbent that’s making a good show in the cloud. Adobe and SAP are both growing their cloud user base at an even faster rate, albeit from a lower base. Okta has seen Adobe post 144% year-over-year growth with its Creative Cloud suite and EchoSign e-signature service, while SAP has grown 133% on the back of Concur and SuccessFactors adoption.

Oracle is the cloud laggard, with just 68% growth in a relatively small user base spread across its Eloqua, Responsys and Taleo applications. In part that reflects a more restricted user population for this type of application, as well as a skew in Okta’s customer base that may underrepresent Oracle.

3. Collaboration, HR and travel have the widest reach

It’s unsurprising to see Office 365 and Google Apps achieving the broadest footprint across the enterprise, with 87% and 96% penetration respectively. Less expected is to see HR app Ultipro reaching almost the same percentage of users in an organization as Office 365, just ahead of travel and expense application Concur. Another HR application, Workday, also scores surprisingly well on this metric, reaching around two thirds of users. Their success demonstrates the effectiveness of self-service HR administration when delivered on cloud and mobile.

The other outlier here is fast-rising collaboration app Slack, which averages 75% penetration in organizations that use it, making it the fourth most widely assigned app in Okta customers. While it may not be replacing email, it is certainly close to rivaling cloud email apps in its reach. That’s unusual for a relatively young application, where adoption is more often departmental rather than enterprise-wide.

4. Slack slows, Tableau and New Relic rise

The shine has come off Slack a little though when it comes to growth. Even though it’s still the fastest growing in the Okta universe, its 77% rise in adoption in the second half of 2015 implies a rapid deceleration compared to the 667% it posted in the whole of 2015.

Other vendors that featured in Okta’s December round-up have done a better job of sustaining momentum, albeit from a lower base. Popular visualization vendor Tableau moves into second place with a steady 65%, while up-and-coming APM vendor New Relic continues to grow strongly at 56%. There’s notable growth too from online education app Lynda.com and digital signature app DocuSign, at 44% and 41% respectively.

Conversely, there’s no sign in the fast movers’ chart this time of previous fast movers Greenhouse, Envoy and Zapier, suggesting that their success was more of a blip. At the time, we thought the 580% year-on-year rise posted by recruitment app Greenhouse might be a reflection of rapid new employee growth at companies in the Okta customer base, but that’s not been borne out by the latest stats.

5. Cloud HR, T&E and video do best in the US

While cloud adoption is fairly evenly spread worldwide in most application categories, there are a few outliers where there’s a dramatic difference in takeup in North America compared to other regions. Okta sees cloud HR adopted at 55% of its customers in the US and Canada, compared to just 22% in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and 21% in Asia Pacific (AP). Expense management has 43% penetration in North America compared to 16% in EMEA and just 11% in AP. Video conferencing is also at 43% in North America, compared to 22% in EMEA and 24% in AP.

Okta acknowledges differences in culture, regulation and market maturity may play a role here, but also cites vendor expansion strategies. The latter may be the largest factor, with some US-based vendors slow to expand into international markets.

6. The extended enterprise is growing even faster

A big focus for Okta in the past year has been to encourage enterprises to embed it into the services they offer their customers and partners. Its banner customer for this is Adobe, which uses Okta to enable enterprise access to its Creative Cloud products. So while the number of internal enterprise identities served by Okta grew 138% over the year, the number of external identities soared 488%, reaching a higher total than internal. It’s a trend the company sees continuing.

Image credit - Feature image - Surprised OMG shocked woman pop art style © studiostoks - Fotolia.com

Disclosure - Oracle, SAP and Workday are diginomica premier partners at the time of writing

    Comments are closed.

    1. says:

      I licensed 365 but have only ended up using Excel. I ‘may’ end up using PPT at some point but that’s all. For all its faults, GMail remains the easiest tool for email.Reference

    2. says:

      Those SAP numbers are interesting. Did they suggest absolute growth in user numbers?Reference

      1. Phil Wainewright says:

        This is growth of adoption within the Okta customer base. So yes it is based on absolute numbers, but those numbers are the result of people either implementing Okta or having Okta and adding an SAP cloud app. I would expect most of the growth to be a combination of Concur new users plus existing SAP HR customers adopting SuccessFactors.

    3. says:

      I”d certainly agree with this conclusion based upon Oracle’s ‘all you can eat from us’ approach to Oracle apps moving to the cloud plus their own solutions.Reference

    4. says:

      Adobe should be no surprise having pretty much force marched its user base onto cloud services.Reference

    5. Julien says:

      Interesting article. A visualization or infographic would probably be interesting here.
      Thanks also for spelling out the statistical bias.