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2021. Report on tools for small and medium enterprises by Setapp


The application business fascinates us, so we decided to take a look at applications that fascinate companies. Our new report explores the enterprise software market and how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) use 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 whom work in companies with less than 250 employees. Insights can be valuable to business software developers as well as anyone in the application business.

Here are the key questions we answer in the 2021 SME Toolkit.

  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the state of business software?
  • What applications do SME employees use on Macs and Windows computers?
  • Where do SME employees mainly install applications from?
  • Web or desktop – what types of applications do SMEs choose?

If you missed our previous report exploring how people benefit from Mac apps, you can read it here – Mac Apps Report 2021. If you want to skip the summary and go directly to our new report, download the SMB tools for 2021 .Report in PDF here.

Hybrid operation is the new normal

After two years of isolation, there has been a massive shift to hybrid work – 39% of SME employees in the US and 48% in the UK work partly remotely, partly in the office. 27% is completely remote. About 20% stick to the office mode. This means that business software developers must customize applications for remote work in 2021.

Remote workers use multiple applications

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

using applications for remote workers

27% say they update their toolkit every year, 25% can update their toolkit on demand, and only 9% use the same apps year after year. Great news for developers – most SME employees are open to trying out new tools.

Business app stores are on the rise

49% use applications that are pre-installed on their computers. When SME workers need new applications, 39% refer to some type of enterprise application store, and 31% search for applications on the web. Enterprise stores have grown in popularity in recent years, indicating that owning a set of basic applications is a viable solution for small and medium-sized businesses.

Business application stores

Microsoft dominates the market

70% of employees in the UK and 40% of those in the US list at least one Microsoft application among the best desktop applications they use at work. This makes sense because global SME workstations are dominated by Microsoft – 65% of employees in the US and 75% in the UK work on Windows computers. SMEs in the UK also generally enjoy working with Microsoft applications, while employees in the US are more likely to diversify – only 20% say they like Microsoft applications the most.

Here are the most popular applications used by SME workers.

applications used by SME workers

Desktop applications are the best choice

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

Application fatigue is real

Do you think 6 apps a day is not that much? Well, many SME employees think differently. About 25% say they are overwhelmed by the number of apps they use at work. 6% need more desktop applications, and over 65% are fine with the number they currently have.

Application statistics for SME employees

You will find these and other location-based statistics in a full copy of our 2021 SME Tool Report. Download the PDF below to read it.

[Download PDF]



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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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