Data, Humans and the Cloud, Part 2: Four Types of Users

Digital transformation is changing the face of business. All business. As part of this shift, many IT leaders have decided to use their cloud collaboration tools for data protection and recovery—tools like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box and Dropbox. According to a 2017 Intel Security Study, 74 percent of businesses now store some sensitive information in the cloud. And according to a Code42 customer survey, 67 percent of companies have data in three or more cloud storage services.

While a cloud-focused future is clearly the goal, there is still a considerable amount of data being saved to the endpoint. In fact, Code42’s 2017 CTRL-Z Study revealed that IT decision makers believe that as much as 60 percent of corporate information lives on user laptops. Over the course of our three-part blog series, we explore the critical role human behavior plays in how data is stored and protected as your business moves to the cloud.

Read Part 1: Unexpected Behavior here.

“ By understanding the user types that make up a workforce and their work patterns, companies can set out on a digital transformation course that avoids unintentionally creating information risk inside their business. ”

Part 2: The four types of users in your organization and how they store data

From Part 1 of this blog series, the data is clear that most employees don’t work the way IT leaders expect, nor the way their policies may dictate. To add further clarity to this point, a recent Code42 study broke down work habits by common user types. We call them Adopters, Collaborators, Innovators and Travelers. There is a natural alignment between some roles, as illustrated below:

  • Adopters are typically found in finance, human resources or legal roles.
  • Collaborators are often found in marketing, IT and support roles.
  • Innovators are commonly found in research and development, and engineering roles.
  • Travelers are usually found in sales and executive roles.

While there are certainly many differences in the work habits of, for example, your marketing team and engineering team, for the purposes of this study we only examined how they store data in cloud storage services.

  • Adopters keep more than 75 percent of their files in cloud storage services.
  • Collaborators keep 50-75 percent of their files in cloud storage services.
  • Innovators keep 25-49 percent of their files in cloud storage services.
  • Travelers keep less than 25 percent of their files in cloud storage services.
Four types of users in your organization


You may think (or hope) that most of your employees are Adopters, but our research shows that they only make up 10 percent of users. Collaborators are a bit more common—they make up 20 percent of your users. Innovators are the most common, making up 40 percent of users. That leaves Travelers at 30 percent of users. In total, 70 percent of users have less than 50 percent of their data in your cloud storage services.

The power of knowledge

Your initial reaction to this data may be negative. After all, it’s natural to feel discouraged when you learn that employees aren’t following your data protection policies. The silver lining: By understanding the user types that make up a workforce and their work patterns, companies can set out on a digital transformation course that avoids unintentionally creating information risk inside their business.

In the final post in this series, I’ll discuss the consequences of the disconnect between digital transformation and human behavior—and what your organization can do about it.

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