Slack was one of the most popular apps, measured by the number of companies that have deployed it, Okta said.


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The number of software apps deployed by large firms across all industries world-wide has increased 68% over the past four years, reaching an average of 129 apps per company by the end of 2018, according to an analysis by

Okta
Inc.

Nearly 10% of businesses now have more than 200 apps in their enterprise information-technology systems, the San Francisco-based identity-management firm said in a report Thursday. The report defines large firms as having more than 2,000 employees and small firms as having fewer than 2,000.

It found smaller firms tended to have fewer apps, though the average number is also rising—jumping from 53 in 2015, to 73 last year.

That number could increase.

Global spending on enterprise software is expected to grow 8.5% this year to a total of $431 billion, driven by cloud-based software subscriptions, research firm

Gartner
Inc.

said in a report last month. Overall spending on IT is expected to reach $3.8 trillion, up 3.2% from 2018, Gartner said.

The business world’s growing appetite for apps showcases the move over the last 10 years from single vendors with all-in-one platforms to “best-of-breed” applications, Todd McKinnon, Okta’s chief executive officer, told CIO Journal. He describes the trend as positive, in that it reflects the widespread adoption of new, innovative technologies.

The analysis is based on login activity on Okta’s network over the past year by more than 5,600 companies world-wide, as well as a survey of over 1,200 U.S. workers conducted between December and January.

Okta provides a cloud-based tool that manages employee access and authentication for a company’s stable of apps and other digital assets. To date, it has over 5 million paid daily active users and more than 100 million registered users, according to a company spokeswoman.

Still, there are costs associated with having more apps, including licenses and service fees, said Bill Swanton, a distinguished vice president and analyst at Gartner Inc.

He said many firms have multiple apps that essentially do the same thing, with workers in each business unit having their favorite tools. To curb costs, he said, many companies have implemented “applications rationalization” efforts to try to standardize apps across the business.

According to Okta,

Microsoft
Corp.’s

Office 365 last year was the most popular enterprise app, measured by the number of companies that have deployed it—a title it has held since 2015.

Gauged by company deployments, other top apps included Google’s G Suite, Box, Slack and applications offered by

Salesforce.com
Inc.

and Amazon Web Services.

Security tools were the fastest-growing apps among Okta customers, with deployments of security-awareness training platform KnowBe4 growing 178% year over year, followed by LastPass and Proofpoint, Okta said.

“Organizations are shifting the focus of modern security away from traditional network strategies to perimeter-less approaches, focusing on users, data, and locations,” the report said.

And while many chief information officers strive to “clean house” by eliminating unnecessary clutter in IT systems, Mr. McKinnon said they are also encouraging employees to bring on new tools that can be secured and integrated into those systems.

“They aren’t necessarily eliminating apps, they’re eliminating shadow IT,” Mr. McKinnon said.

Not all apps being used in the workplace are related to the enterprise, the analysis found.

Just over half of the survey respondents said they have shopped online at work, while 6% admitted to checking dating apps in the office.

Write to Angus Loten at angus.loten@wsj.com

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