Embracing the Shift to Cloud

By Frederic Kerrest, COO & Co-founder, Okta

Frederic Kerrest, COO & Co-founder, Okta

I started working in technology more than 20 years ago, when external data storage was new, and “connecting to the cloud” meant staring out the window while waiting for a browser to load. Since then, external hard drives have become obsolete as technology catapulted us toward our modern understanding of cloud computing.

“The tech industry isn’t the only one embracing the cloud”

Employees and industries are embracing the shift to the cloud, and Okta’s data has tracked exactly how that’s happening. By analyzing how millions of Okta users at thousands of companies are interacting with their applications, we can see how industries are reacting to and adopting the cloud— particularly in communication. Here’s what we found across 10 cloud-forward industries:

Internet and Software

Not surprisingly, the cloud developers are also the most aggressive cloud adopters. According to our 2016 report, nearly 60 percent of internet and software companies in Okta’s network use social media apps (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), HR apps (SuccessFactors, Workday, ADP), developer tools (i.e. GitHub, JIRA, New Relic, PagerDuty, Twilio, New Relic), document storage (Dropbox, Box), messaging apps (Yammer, HipChat, Slack), and cloud platforms (AWS, Google Public Cloud, Azure). Even higher, however, is a 90 percent app adoption rate for mail and core apps (Office 365 or Google Apps) and sales and marketing apps (i.e. Salesforce, Marketo, SurveyMonkey or Mailchimp).

Marketing and Advertising

In our network, more than 80 percent of marketing and advertising customers use sales and marketing apps, as well as cloud mail and core apps. More than 70 percent have adopted social media and document storage, and over half are also adopting developer tools and communications apps, along with cloud platforms.

Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals

Another cloud-friendly industry is biotech and pharmaceuticals—because pharmaceutical sales representatives rely on cloud capabilities to store their sales data while on the move. Our customer Shire Pharmaceuticals moved to the cloud to improve communication with parties outside their network, and customer AMAG Pharmaceuticals made the switch to tear out its legacy IT systems. Our data showed that 81 percent of companies like these have turned to cloud mail and core apps, while 60 percent have adopted HR, sales and marketing, and document storage applications.

Real Estate

Of the real estate firms in our network, only 24 percent have moved to cloud platforms and 31 percent have embraced developer tools. But almost 80 percent of companies—like customers Pennrose and REA Group—are adopting mail and core apps, along with sales and marketing. 60 percent of those have also brought on document storage and social media apps.


We’ve watched as the non-profits in our network have turned to mainstream cloud apps at a nearly 90 percent adoption rate. 50 percent of the organizations like Rotary International, Girl Scouts, Goodwill, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma society are using cloud communications apps as well. But expense management and developer tools hold a lower share of their cloud usage—with only a 30 percent adoption rate.


The traditional and online retail companies in our network—including, Tommy Bahama, Men’s Warehouse, and Trunk Club— are also welcoming the shift to the cloud. 70 percent of these companies in our network are turning to cloud mail apps, and 64 percent are adopting social apps. Only 38 percent, however, have cloud messaging apps. An even lower percentage is relying on expense management, cloud platforms, or document storage in their fields.


An office here, an employee there— business in the construction industry is geographically driven, making cloud adoption a clear choice for many construction companies. Our customer Carlisle Construction relies on mobile and cloud technology to keep executives and project managers on the same digital page, no matter where the projects are. Over 64 percent of construction companies in our network turn to sales and marketing, document storage, social media and email, while 30 percent use messaging apps and cloud expense management. Only 18 percent use developer tools.

Hospitals and Healthcare

With the industry-wide efforts to move from paper charts to electronic medical records, it’s no surprise that over 50 percent of our customers in the healthcare industry have adopted document storage apps. Over half also use social media, sales and marketing and HR apps, while 72 percent use a cloud mail and core app. Developer tools, messaging and expense management apps are used by less than 41 percent, and only 23 percent use a cloud platform.


Schools and universities everywhere have anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred of employees, and a few hundred to a few thousand students. While companies comparable in size are shifting to the cloud, many education organizations are still stuck on lesson one. The education organizations in our network, however, are embracing cloud apps for email—at an 87 percent adoption rate. All other usage falls at a lower rate—just 30 percent use messaging or cloud platforms, and 24 percent use developer tools and expense management. 52 percent use social media apps or sales and marketing tools, while 40 percent use document storage or HR apps.


The financial organizations in our network show lower adoption rates in messaging, HR and expense management apps (40 percent), developer tools (32 percent) and cloud platforms (27 percent)—but email tools are a different story. More than 70 percent have brought on not just sales and marketing tools, but also, like each of the top ten cloud-forward industries, email apps—showing that communication is king in the age of the cloud.