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Application and security trends changing the IT landscape in 2016

Over the past couple of years, the hyper-growth in business computing has transformed work across organisations of all sizes. Companies large and small are taking steps to provide employees, partners, contractors and even customers with the apps, devices and services they need to be productive. In fact, a recent Okta report shows that businesses are adopting between 11 and 16 off-the-shelf cloud applications. This growth presents organisations with some challenges. Mobile, social, BYOD and the increasing demand to access applications anytime, anywhere has drastically altered the IT landscape for many CIOs and their teams, creating a struggle for control.

Tasked with helping make the business more agile while protecting sensitive data, IT has to balance user experience and security when choosing new technologies. This requires a complete understanding of the company network and its surroundings, as well as the trends dominating the IT space. At Okta, we’ve examined how new developments in the IT space are impacting our network of customers and the trends that CIOs and their teams should look into in 2016. Here are a few highlights.

1. The next big enterprise apps will be Slack, Greenhouse, Envoy and Zapier. These were our four fastest growing apps of 2015, all seeing usage grow by over 200 per cent. In particular, Slack was the fastest growing app in our network, growing 667 per cent in 2015. Its popularity will only continue to increase in the coming months.

2. Public cloud companies will see their customer count continue to grow. During 2015, we saw a 60 per cent increase in the use of public company apps and services. In the wake of IPOs, cloud companies clearly continue to build strong customer bases. We’ll be keeping an eye on the newly public Atlassian, which from 2014-2015 experienced customer growth rates of over 70 per cent for its three key apps: 72 per cent for HipChat, 96 per cent for JIRA and 116 per cent for Confluence.

3. The use of recruiting cloud apps will continue to grow. 2015 saw the number of customers using cloud recruiting apps grow by 99 per cent. Jobvite continued to be the top recruiting app in the Okta Application Network, though Greenhouse saw 580 per cent growth from November 2014 to November 2015. Recruiting cloud apps and services are clearly front of mind for teams, and will continue to be well into 2016.

4. MFA is here to stay. It takes less than five minutes to find out someone’s mother’s maiden name, hometown or first pet via social media. As a result, use of the classic security question is declining, and companies are moving towards newer forms of verification. In turn, providers are getting innovative, using things that users possess — such as phones, watches — and things that make them, them —fingerprints, irises or voice — to authenticate access to cloud apps and services. Our data also shows an increase in soft token, hard token and SMS authentication options, with tokens surpassing the security question in the percentage of employees usage. With tokens on the rise and security questions on the decline, MFA is here to stay.

5. The role of CSOs and CISOs will continue to grow. As mobile apps, cloud services, and the Internet of Things reshape how industries get business done, and force every organisation to go digital, the use cases for identity have expanded. Businesses are building identity layers into their customer and partner-facing websites and portals, as evidenced by the 439 per cent growth of the external identities in Okta’s network in 2015, as compared to 129 per cent growth for internal identities. As the risk of breaches increases, security decision makers will become key players in digital business initiatives as well. At Okta, we saw an almost 30 per cent growth year-over-year in the number of deals where a CSO or CISO was involved in purchase decisions for identity management. That’s why we predict that in 2016, IT and security leaders’ roles will continue to expand as they take on digital business initiatives and own more critical business services.

6. The zero infrastructure business will become a reality. According to Gartner, of the £104 billion spent on enterprise application software in 2015, “the majority” went towards modernising, replacing or extending existing business software using SaaS. Okta’s dataset supports this figure, showing that the average number of of-the-shelf cloud apps at companies has grown 33 per cent year-over-year, Amazon Web Services has grown by 123 per cent year-over-year, and Microsoft Azure Cloud Services by 216 per cent year-over-year. It’s now possible to start and run a small-to-midsized business without needing physical locations, servers, or software. BYOB — Bring Your Own Business — is set to become a reality.

In 2016, the number of applications, access points and user types within organisations will continue to grow and diversify, creating an increasingly urgent need to gain visibility and control whilst also simplifying user access to cloud systems. In order to regain control of their IT infrastructures, it will be crucial that organisations understand who has access to applications and data, where they are accessing it and what they are doing with it.

Organisations that are prepared to deal with the increase in cloud applications will realise the real benefits from operating in a cloud-first environment, providing a significant uplift to business productivity while giving employees secure access to the apps they need, when and where they want them.

Phil Turner, VP EMEA, Okta