Over the past decade, the cloud has become a disruptive force affecting every function and initiative in the enterprise. Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as “one with substantial disruptive potential that is just beginning to break out of an emerging state into broader impact and use.” For six consecutive years starting in 2009, the cloud was on Gartner’s annual list of top 10 strategic technology trends.

The fact that the cloud dropped off the list in 2016 indicates that the technology is maturing and becoming mainstream.

The state of cloud adoption

As the cloud computing industry enters its second decade, it continues to drive innovation for organizations. New and existing business functions, from customer service to cybersecurity, are steadily shifting to public, private, and hybrid clouds.

The fastest growth is in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Research firm IDC estimates that nearly one third of the worldwide enterprise application market will be SaaS-based by 2018, driving annual SaaS revenue to $50.8 billion, from 22.6 billion in 2013.

That estimate reflects Skyhigh’s own observations, which are based on actual anonymized data from over 30 million users across over 600 enterprises using Skyhigh CASB worldwide. Skyhigh data shows that the average number of cloud-based applications in use has nearly tripled in the past three years, from 545 in the third quarter of 2013 to 1,427 in Q3 of 2016.

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The hypergrowth of the cloud market has required analyst firms to adjust forecasts upward. For example, in September 2016, Forrester estimated the public cloud market to grow to $236 billion by 2020. But in 2014, its 2020 estimate was only at $191 billion — and its 2011 forecast for 2020 was 20% lower still.

The use of the cloud has become so pervasive that many organizations are adopting a “cloud-first” approach. The most recent annual cloud computing survey by venture firm North Bridge found that 50 percent of the organizations had either a cloud-first or cloud-only policy (90 percent used the cloud in some way).

12 must-know statistics on cloud usage in the enterprise

These statistics are based on anonymized user data collected from over 30 million Skyhigh users worldwide. Here are some of the findings that enterprises should be aware of:

1. The average enterprise uses 1,427 distinct cloud services.

This number is a 23.7 percent increase over the same quarter of last year. It is also nearly triple from Q3 of 2013.

2. The average employee actively uses 36 cloud services at work.

This includes nine collaboration, six file-sharing, and five content-sharing services. Since the market is still developing, few categories have a dominant provider.

3. The average enterprise uses 210 distinct collaboration cloud services.

Collaboration continues to be the most widely used category of cloud apps. However, using too many services could inhibit rather than enable collaboration because of the friction required to use different applications to collaborate with different teams.

4. The average enterprise uses 76 distinct file sharing cloud services.

This has been one of the fastest-growing categories year over year.

5. 18.1 percent of files uploaded to cloud-based file-sharing and collaboration services contain sensitive data.

The data can be broken down into 6 categories:

  • Confidential (44.4 percent) — e.g. financial records, business plans
  • Personally identifiable information (3.9 percent) — e.g. data containing Social Security numbers, dates of birth
  • Password-protected (3.2 percent)
  • Email (2.7 percent) — this includes PST exports from Microsoft Outlook, MSG and EML messages, etc.
  • Payment information (2.3 percent) — e.g. credit and debit card numbers
  • Protected health information (1.6 percent) — e.g. patient diagnoses, medical treatments

6. 2.7 percent of files shared in the cloud have access permissions that make them publicly accessible.

These files can be found and downloaded via an internet search engine. That makes the likelihood of a data breach very high.

7. 71.3 percent of all cloud services at use are enterprise-focused and 28.7 percent are consumer ones.

The top 5 enterprise services being used globally are OneDrive, Exchange Online, Salesforce, SharePoint Online and Yammer. The top 5 consumer apps are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

8. The average enterprise experiences 23.2 cloud-related threats per month.

This reflects an 18.4 percent increase over last year. Just about every organization experiences at least one threat each month.

9. The average enterprise experiences 10.9 cloud-related insider threats per month.

This is the most common threat, with 93.5 percent of organizations experiencing at least one insider threat, either malicious or negligent, every month.

10. Of the known cloud services, only 8.1 percent meet the strict data security and privacy requirements of enterprises, as defined by Skyhigh’s CloudTrust Program.

Of the 20,000 cloud services in use today, only 1 in 10 of the providers follow the industry’s best practice of encrypting data at rest and other enterprise-grade security controls.

11. 31.3 percent of all cloud services are blocked at enterprises because they are too risky.

An example of a risky service is one that converts a Word document into a PDF and claims ownership of all the data that’s uploaded. Only 61 percent of large enterprises, however, have a governance policy that would help qualify this risk.

12. The most commonly blocked cloud service is Pirate Bay.

Other top blocked apps are PDF converters, such as PDF Split, PDF Unlock! and PDF to DOC.  PicResize and KickassTorrents are also on the list.