Small and Medium Enterprise Tools Report 2021

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App business fascinates us, so we decided to look at the apps that fascinate businesses. Our new report explores the enterprise software market and how small and medium enterprises (SME) utilize software to achieve their goals and stay productive in 2021. 

For this study, we surveyed 304 SME workers from the U.S. and 334 from the UK, all of which work in companies with fewer than 250 employees. The insights can be valuable for developers of the enterprise software, as well as anyone in the app business. 

Here are the key questions we answer in the 2021 SME Tools Report:

  • How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the state of enterprise software? 
  • What apps do SME employees use on Macs and Windows computers? 
  • Where do SME employees mostly install apps from? 
  • Web or desktop — what types of apps do SMEs choose? 

If you missed our previous report where we explored how people benefit from apps on Mac, you can give it a read here — Mac Apps Report 2021. If you want to skip the summary and go directly to our new report, download the 2021 SME Tools Report in PDF here. 

Hybrid work is the new normal 

Following two years of lockdowns, there’s been a massive switch to hybrid work — 39% of the SME employees in the U.S. and 48% in the UK work partly remote, partly in the office. 27% went fully remote. Around 20% stick to the office mode. This means enterprise software developers have to tailor the apps for remote work in 2021. 

hybrid work stats

Remote workers use more apps 

Another interesting insight is that only 10% of SME employees use more than 10 apps every day — and almost all these people work remotely. The average number of apps used by an SME worker per day is 6. This could mean remote workers will be more willing to include new apps in their toolkit than those who work in the office. 

remote workers apps usage

27% say they get their app toolkit updated every year, 25% can get their toolkit updated on request, and only 9% use the same apps from year to year. Great news for developers — the majority of SME employees are open to trying out new tools. 

Enterprise app stores are on the rise

49% use the apps pre-installed on their computers. When SME workers need new apps, 39% refer to some kind of an enterprise app store, and 31% search for apps on the web. Enterprise stores have grown in popularity over the last years, which indicates that having a toolkit of essential apps is a viable solution for small and medium businesses. 

Enterprise app stores

Microsoft dominates the market 

70% of the UK employees and 40% of those in the U.S. name at least one Microsoft app among the top desktop apps they use at work. This makes sense since global SME workstations are dominated by Microsoft — 65% of employees in the U.S. and 75% in the UK work on Windows computers. The UK SMEs also predominantly enjoy working with Microsoft apps, while the U.S. employees are more likely to diversify — only 20% say they like Microsoft apps the most. 

Here are the top apps SME workers use. 

apps SME workers use

Desktop apps are the top choice

72% of the UK respondents and 62% of those in the U.S. confirmed they prefer desktop apps over web ones. Interestingly, Americans tend to choose desktop apps for security reasons and because they are easier to use, while the UK workforce answers “speed,” “ease of use,” and “accessibility” when asked about the reasons to use desktop apps.

App fatigue is real 

Did you think 6 apps per day is not that much? Well, many SME employees think otherwise. Around 25% say they are overwhelmed with the number of apps they use at work. 6% need more desktop apps and over 65% are fine with the number they currently have.

SME employees apps stats

You’ll find these and other stats organized by location in the full copy of our 2021 SME Tools Report. Download the PDF below to give it a read. 

[Download PDF]

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