Google’s G Suite app is fast clawing back ground, but Microsoft’s Office 365 remains the blue ribbon app in offices around the world.

Identity management company Okta has released its 5th annual Business@Work report, tracking the most popular and fastest growing apps and systems used by thousands of companies across varying industries in 2018.

Among the key findings is the revelation that Google is fighting back in its continual battle with Microsoft.

Ever since it was introduced to the world by the all-conquering search engine in 2006, G Suite has positioned itself as a direct competitor to Microsoft office products.

“Everyone loves a classic rivalry,” says Okta in the report. “Coke vs Pepsi. Ford vs General Motors. Dogs vs cats. And of course, Microsoft vs Google.”

And while Microsoft Office 365 “continues to dominate the total pool of apps when viewed both by customers and active users”, it is Google that has the fastest growing user base.

G Suite has seen a 116% year-over-year increase in active unique users, compared to Office 365’s 55% growth.

Okta predicts this growth to continue, due to G Suite’s position as a relative newcomer with “the broader greenfield”.

But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, 67% of workers prefer Microsoft Word to Google Docs, while 49% would take Microsoft Outlook over Gmail.

If G Suite is to ever topple Office 365, it doesn't look like it will be in the next few years.

Other leading apps include Salesforce, Amazon AWS, Box, Slack, Jira, Zoom and Dropbox.

LinkedIn and Twitter have fallen out of the top 15 most popular apps list.

Security focused

With 2018 coinciding with the EU’s introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it is little surprise to see user-focused security apps leading the fastest growing list.

“We noticed impressive growth in company investments in security tools,” Okta points out.

“Why? increased attack sophistication and insider threats mean that not everything or everyone inside a network can be trusted.”

Security apps KnowBe4 (178% year-over-year growth), LastPass (132%) and Proofpoint (122%) were the top three fastest growing apps.

Australian unicorn Atlassian finished seventh on the list, registering 91% growth.

The total number of apps being used by companies and their workers has continued to grow.

The average number of apps per business was 83 in 2018, up from 77 in 2017 and 58 in 2015.

“Companies of every size and across all industries find more and more apps “app-ealing”: there’s a clear trend that companies are deploying more apps over time,” the report says.