Survey: Most Americans Foggy on Cloud Computing

By Buffy Naylor Comments
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While “the cloud" may be the tech buzzword of the year, many Americans remain foggy about what the cloud really is and how it works. A new national survey by Wakefield Research, commissioned by Citrix, shows that most respondents believe the cloud is related to weather, while some referred to pillows, drugs and toilet paper. Those claiming to be in the know thought that working from home in their “birthday suit" is the cloud’s greatest advantage. The good news is that even those that don’t know exactly what the cloud is recognize its economic benefits and think the cloud is a catalyst for small business growth.

The survey of more than 1,000 American adults was conducted in August 2012 and shows that while the cloud is widely used, it is still misunderstood. For example, 51 percent of respondents, including a majority of Millennials, believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing. Nearly one-third see the cloud as a thing of the future, yet 97 percent are actually using cloud services today via online shopping, banking, social networking and file sharing. Despite this confusion, three in five (59 percent) believe the “workplace of the future" will exist entirely in the cloud, which indicates people feel it’s time to figure out the cloud or risk being left behind in their professional lives.

These survey responses show there is a significant disconnect between what Americans know, what they pretend to know, and what they actually do when it comes to cloud computing. Among the key findings:

  • People feign knowledge about the cloud. One in five Americans (22 percent) admit that they've pretended to know what the cloud is or how it works. Some of the false claims take place during work hours, with one-third of these respondents faking an understanding of the cloud in the office and another 14 percent doing so during a job interview. Interestingly, an additional 17 percent have pretended to know what the cloud was during a first date. Younger Americans are most likely to pretend to know what the cloud is and how it works (36 percent ages 18-29, 18 percent ages 30 and older), as are Americans in the West (28 percent West, 22 percent U.S.).
  • You’re not alone. While many admit they don’t understand the cloud, 56 percent of respondents say they think other people refer to cloud computing in conversation when they really don’t know what they are talking about.
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