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Clueless About Cloud Computing

Susanna Sharpe

The European Union's cloud computing strategy couldn't come at a better time as the region lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to cloud computing usage.

The EU announced its cloud computing strategy last month and is optimistic it will create new jobs and help boost a struggling economy.

An information campaign is necessary if the EU is to overturn the misunderstanding and general lack of knowledge about the cloud.

A recent survey from BSA, The Software Alliance found only a quarter of respondents used cloud services, compared to 34 per cent globally. Nearly 4000 people were surveyed and the majority had either never heard of cloud computing or had heard the term but didn't know what it was.

While only 24 per cent of respondents said they used cloud services compared to the majority, who didn't know what cloud computing was, it turns out many were using cloud applications, they just didn't realise it. Almost 90 per cent of cloud users accessed the cloud for personal use only — mostly email — compared to under 30 per cent who used it for business.

Europeans aren't the only ones with their head in the clouds over cloud computing. Americans don't seem to be very clued up on it either. A recent survey from software company Citrix uncovered some pretty amusing misconceptions about the cloud.

Citrix's surveyed 1000 people and when asked what they thought cloud computing was, the answers varied from clouds in the sky, pillows, heaven, drugs and even toilet paper. More than half thought bad weather could affect cloud computing. A fifth of those surveyed even admitted they had pretended to know what the cloud was. Just 16 per cent of respondents correctly answered that cloud computing uses a computer network to store, access and share data via the Internet.

Similarly to Europeans, many Americans are using cloud services without even realising it. The majority said they had never used cloud computing, but in fact the opposite was true; almost all of those surveyed had used the cloud either for banking, online shopping, social networking or file sharing.

While I wasn't able to find statistics on whether the general public in Australia understands cloud computing, a recent survey of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) shows similarities to cloud knowledge in the US and Europe.

The MYOB survey of 1000 SMBs found only 14 per cent admitted to using the cloud for business. MYOB's CEO Tim Rees said this was a surprising statistic considering the widespread use of email, online banking and other cloud services. A quarter of respondents said they hadn't moved any of their operations to the cloud because they didn't know enough about it to make a decision. Similar to the problem in the US and Europe, Rees said the education campaign might need a rethink as businesses are still not grasping the definition of cloud computing, let alone its possibilities.

With the understanding of cloud computing still poor in Europe, the US and Australia, we could probably assume it is a similar problem globally. If education campaigns have so far produced limited results, what do you think could be done to improve the general understanding of cloud computing? What can be done to convince individuals and companies to embrace the technology? Please contribute your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Susanna Sharpe, Social Media Manager. More blog posts from Susanna Sharpe can also be read here.

Related topics: Cloud Computing


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Problem? Marcel Doe  –  Oct 23, 2012 3:57 AM PDT

I fail to see why lack of knowledge about the term cloud computing is such a big problem. It's just another marketing term used by large IT companies to sell us products or services. Maybe there is just no demand for these products or services, hence no need for CEOs (who are not in IT) to dive into this year's hype.

From the viewpoint of the companies selling cloud services, yes, it's a problem if customers don't know or don't care what you are selling. But no worries, there will be another hype next year.

Not just marketing hype Susanna Sharpe  –  Oct 29, 2012 12:49 PM PDT

Marcel you make a good point but I'm not sure that cloud computing is just marketing hype. I think there is demand for cloud products as almost all employees would now use email and other online services to communicate and do their job. I think if the basics aren't understood, how are CEOs and management to know what else is on offer to help them operate more efficiently?

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