Cloud Confusion Rampant Among Consumers: Survey

If you don’t know it, fake it.

That little truism seems to apply to the cloud, at least according to a new survey by Citrix Systems (and conducted by Wakefield Research): of the 1,006 respondents, some 22 percent admitted only pretending to understand the cloud and how it works. Roughly a third had faked this cloud knowledge in the office; 14 percent faked it in a job interview; and 17 percent during a first date (oh, to be a fly on that wall).

Around 36 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 faked cloud knowledge, versus 18 percent above the age of 30.

Perhaps most worrisome to the various IT vendors rushing at full speed into the cloud-computing space, a full 29 percent of respondents thought “the cloud” had something to do with the actual weather. In fact, only 16 percent of those surveyed defined the cloud as a network for storing and accessing data via a Web-connected device.

Another worrisome data-point for any company in the midst of pushing a portfolio of cloud products: a full 54 percent of respondents claimed to never use cloud computing, even though 95 percent of them participated in cloud-related activities such as online banking, online shopping, social networking, and uploading photos and music to an online repository.

“Even though many Americans don’t know exactly what the cloud does, they see its silver lining,” Citrix’s note about the survey added. “Most Americans (68 percent) recognize the economic benefits after learning more about the cloud,” including the cost savings and possible spur to small business growth. Respondents also seemed to gravitate toward the idea that the cloud could let them work and access their personal data from anywhere.

However, respondents didn’t entirely trust the cloud. “Among those who hardly ever or never use the cloud, the top three deterrents are cost (34 percent), security concerns (32 percent) and privacy concerns (31 percent),” the note concluded.

That generalized lack of knowledge about the cloud comes despite many companies’ aggressive marketing push around cloud-related products. If there’s any small note of consolation for those firms, it’s that people (at least if this survey data is any indication) use the cloud without fully realizing it’s “the cloud.”


Image: Tom Wang

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