Firms are swimming in a sea of applications, bringing fresh challenges that need to be addressed
For the digital enterprise making use of the best-in-breed applications is non-negotiable, and the number they are relying on is increasing. Workforces on average rely on 162 applications to stay productive, according to cloud identity and access management platform Okta’s recent “Businesses @ Work” report. This is a departure from the traditional enterprise approach of stack simplicity; purchasing one integrated system from a big vendor like Microsoft, Oracle or SAP.
To discuss the changing landscape, senior leaders from three of the most successful enterprise applications – communications platform Slack, cloud content management platform Box, and Okta itself – hosted a breakfast roundtable. They cautioned that while increased application volumes are improving enterprise productivity, they are also bringing fresh complexities.
Changing dynamics in the modern enterprise
Chris Baker, SVP and GM at Box, said the increase in applications is down to growing digital proficiency and shifting workforce expectations. “Employees don’t want email; they want Slack and other technologies,” he said.
In an increasingly competitive world, he said, companies must listen to their workforce or risk losing top talent. Thus with respect to application purchasing decisions, organisational structures in modern enterprises have turned on their head. CIOs have increasingly less direction over tech-stack investment; the workforce underneath dictates applications purchased. Jesper Frederiksen, EMEA VP and GM at Okta, said Okta itself migrated from WeChat to Slack at the behest of its tech engineers.
“It’s a very bottom-up approach compared to what it was five or ten years ago. Whether it’s sales, whether it’s engineering or marketing, they go out and pick the tool that they will feel will enable them to do their best work. That’s why we’ve seen this explosion of applications,” he said.
This shift in power is placing more responsibility on sales, marketing or development teams to demonstrate value from the applications they endorse. It is also changing tech companies’ sales pitches. Companies like Slack, Box or Okta don’t replicate the classical big vendor approach of pitching to CIOs or CEOs but instead directly target sales or engineering teams.