Security platform Okta annually reports on the latest technology trends in the workplace. The report highlights the areas in the working technology world that are climbing in priority and those that have lost steam.
With this in mind, it is an essential report for those considering their next HR technology investment.
UNLEASH caught up with Kristina Johnson, chief people officer at Okta, on the back of the latest Businesses at Work report, to discuss the rise of communication and collaboration tools. The report, which featured the data of customers, also showed some surprising trends and investment opportunities.
Naturally, we also touched on the latest security headlines as well as we looked toward the future of work.
The changing role of tools
Okta identified a surge in the number of tech applications in the workplace, and Johnson sheds some light on why this is the case.
Johnson comments: “Employees like to have the right tools on hand, whether those be old favorites or the latest buzzy technology. And the right tech is key to maintaining company culture in a new hybrid working environment.
“So, it’s not a surprise that the number of apps being used is on the rise, with companies keen to keep employees happy in a rapidly changing workplace.
“That’s particularly the case in bigger companies with more than 2,000 employees, which now deploy 187 apps on average, compared to 89 at smaller firms.”
This investment by businesses is partly attributed to improving employee satisfaction by giving workers the right tools.
However, the big names are still favored: “Our report found that many organizations still offer the big-name office technologies most businesses rely on, but layer on top apps such as Box or Zoom to give the extra functions that employees demand.”
In terms of new tools being introduced, collaboration has been a key area of investment.
Johnson notes: “In the years 2017 to 2019, content collaboration tools were largely absent from the list of ‘fastest growing’ apps in our report, but that changed rapidly with the dawn of the pandemic.
“In fact, the 2021 report found that five out of the ten fastest-growing apps in 2021 were employee collaboration tools.”
This fastest-growing apps list included Notion, Figma, Miro, Airtable, and DocuSign.
Communication and documentation
The impact of the pandemic has changed the way we work and naturally, this has meant that our communication and documentation processes have been altered.
Okta found that DocuSign, an electronic document company, was one of the fastest-growing applications in its study.
Johnson says: “Previously, colleagues might have taken a piece of paper to their colleague to sign. Now, electronic signature apps offer functionality to enable companies to do this in the world of remote and hybrid work.
“The whole category saw a growth of 38% overall from 2020 levels. Increased use of DocuSign shows how companies are shifting their operations to a paperless way of working. It also illustrates how businesses are mindful of compliance and privacy concerns, with a need for a secure way to sign documents remotely.”
Going into detail about the impact of the pandemic on work Johnson notes: “We are entering a third phase of the response to the pandemic, one focused primarily on employees.
“With global job markets on the upswing, companies are attempting to overhaul employee experiences, catering to workforces, with some workers choosing to stay remote and others returning to the office.”
Johnson adds: “Going forward, there will be plenty of room for a variety of different tools – from video communication to simpler chat apps – in remote and hybrid environments.”
The importance of security
Given the latest security breaches from Lapsus$, that impacted Samsung, Nvidia, and even Okta when the information of two customers was accessed, some may expect security tools to be more popular in enterprises.
Reflecting on recent events, Johnson says: “Given how often we see cyber-attacks in the news, it’s tempting to think cybersecurity is the number one priority for organizations.
“But the reality is that security is still an afterthought; it’s perceived as a box you need to check after something is developed.
“We have a long way to go to position cybersecurity professionals as business enablers, rather than roadblocks to innovation.”
Despite preconceptions about security negatively impacting businesses, Johnson comments: “We’ve seen an uptake in modern security frameworks such as Zero Trust, which requires all users, whether in or outside a network, to be continuously validated.
“Both MFA (multi-factor authentication) and Zero Trust have clear, tangible benefits. Our Businesses at Work report has shown that when companies switch to modern authentication solutions, the ratio of threats drops by 90-99%.
“The same report also found that cybercriminals are targeting accounts using Legacy Authentication on Microsoft 365 at a rate ten times higher than accounts using modern authentication methods.”
If you are considering a new investment in any area of the business, Johnson recommends you think about security: “Your business’s identity strategy is something that shapes the experiences your employees, customers, and partners will have.
“Ensuring your digital solutions are built with secure customer identity access management can have a direct impact on business growth. If you’re implementing an app into your organization, it’s essential to build in MFA protection so that you don’t become ‘low-hanging fruit’ for attackers.”
Johnson notes: “It is this combination of identity as a strategy and the user experience that will be crucial for any business looking to drive innovation and growth over the years to come”.
The next big trend
Johnson offers her opinion: “While many organizations are summoning at least some of their workforces back to the office, don’t expect the huge boom in remote access solutions to fizzle out.
“Our report showed continued growth in remote access solutions, even as companies started to ‘bring back’ their workforces. Ensuring employees can work efficiently across a variety of locations will remain a business priority.”
With this in mind, businesses need to assess which tools employees need and then ensure they have the security systems to guarantee that the implementation is safe going into the future.