‘Application sprawl’: Why most UK employees use over 12 apps to communicate

With the average UK employee using around 12 apps to communication, here's why application sprawl is hampering office productivity.

Application sprawl is a new productivity threat affecting UK businesses that most IT departments don’t even know about. This refers to employees switching between tools and devices to share, connect, and communicate at work.

In an age of “unified communications”, a new study from Fuze reveals that the majority of British businesses are still running as many as 12 apps and software packages to allow employees to communicate. The report, Breaking Barriers 2020, collates input from more than 900 CIOs and 6,600 workers. The results reveal that on average, today’s businesses offer a combination of four voice calling apps, four video conferencing apps and four instant messaging apps. This is despite an ongoing push from IT departments to consolidate their communications approach.

55 per cent of CIOs are concerned about the cost of maintaining so many communication systems, while 51 per cent are challenged by the overall complexity of their current communications approach. Three out of five of CIOs also agree that the increasing number of applications spread across their organisations is actually making communication more, rather than less, challenging.

“As workers become more tech-savvy, they expect to use the applications that they’ve grown accustomed to in their personal lives, often installing them on work equipment regardless of company IT policies. The result is a growing application scrawl, with CIOs and IT departments managing multiple apps across a wide variety of devices,” Kris Wood, VP EMEA at Fuze, said. “Despite the massive array of apps, the communication experience for employees is becoming more cumbersome and complex. The simplicity of consumer-like tech experiences must be brought into the enterprise.”

More than half of all business owners now work via mobile apps for up to 90 minutes per day. That’s an increase of 35 per cent in the three years between 2014 and 2017.

This new data comes from research conducted by specialist web design and marketing agency, Digimax, which has also revealed that entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 24 spend the most time using apps for work.

While email remains the most widely used app, of the 2.2 million apps on the App Store and 2.8 million on the Google Play Store, five new contenders for the business crown have emerged in recent years:

  • Google Drive – for file storage, sharing and device synchronisation
  • Skype – for video conferencing and collaborative working
  • Slack – for team messaging, text, voice and video
  • Business banking
  • LinkedIn – for building a business network and promotions

While the mobile isn’t yet ready to overtake the laptop and PC for business use, each of these apps have become an integral part of the working day for professionals in all sectors, enabling genuine working on the go. In fact apps have become such a widely accepted business tool that 57 per cent of business owners say that they are currently looking into developing an app of their own.

  • “The app is becoming an increasingly important tool for business people, allowing them access to a comprehensive range of business tools while away from the office,” Shaz Memon, creative director at Digimax said. “There is still a little way to go, but if technology continues to develop at the rate that it has been – and I can see no reason why it would not – apps will soon allow the smartphone to take the place of the computer and become the primary business tool of professionals. It took business a short while to switch on to the potential of the app, but with big names, such as Google, investing heavily in business app development advances are now coming thick and fast.”

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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