Does the US understand cloud computing?

According to a new survey, apparently not.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The average American consumer doesn't understand what cloud computing is or how it works, according to a national survey.

The survey, undertaken by Wakefield Research and commissioned by cloud-technology firm Citrix, showed that many U.S. consumers believed it was weather-related, or something to do with pillows, drugs, heaven, outerspace and toilet paper.

However, the research -- which included over 1,000 participants and was conducted this month -- did show that even when people did not fully understand cloud computing, they often recognized that it has economic benefits and can drive business growth.

When asked what "the cloud" was, 29 percent said "a fluffy white thing", whereas only 16 percent connected the phrase with a network used to store, access and share data across Internet-connected devices.

Cloud computing was found to be widely misunderstood. The survey found that:

  • 51 percent of respondents, including a majority of Millennials, believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing.
  • 95 percent are actually using cloud services today via online shopping, banking, social networking and file sharing, even though a third believe it to be a "thing of the future".
  • 59 percent believe the "workplace of the future" will exist entirely in the cloud.

However, those that want to appear more knowledgeable aren't against pretending. 22 percent admitted to feigning knowledge about cloud computing -- one third faking in the office and 14 percent during a job interview. Strangely enough, 17 percent pretended to know about cloud computing during a first date.

Americans under 29 years of age were most likely to know what the cloud is and how it works (36 percent). In comparison, only 18 percent of those 30 or older had a functional knowledge of the cloud. 26 percent of the Gen-Y believe that the cloud could spur on job growth, whereas only 19 percent of Baby Boomers felt the same way.

54 percent of Americans claimed never to use cloud computing, although the majority don't realize that they do. The results found:

  • 65 percent bank online,
  • 63 percent shop online;
  • 58 percent use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter,
  • 45 percent have played online games,
  • 29 percent store photos online,
  • 22 percent store music or videos online,
  • 19 percent use online file-sharing.

Despite widespread use of services hosted on cloud computing platforms, the top three deterrents to using the cloud were cost (34 percent), security concerns (32 percent) and privacy worries (31 percent).

Kim DeCarlis, vice president of corporate marketing at Citrix said:

"This survey clearly shows that the cloud phenomenon is taking root in our mainstream culture, yet there is still a wide gap between the perceptions and realities of cloud computing, While significant market changes like this take time, the transition from the PC era to the cloud era is happening at a remarkable pace.

The most important takeaway from this survey is that the cloud is viewed favorably by the majority of Americans, and when people learn more about the cloud they understand it can vastly improve the balance between their work and personal lives."

It seems that a number of Americans do enjoy the softer side of cloud computing. 40 percent enjoyed being able to use the cloud to work from home in their "birthday suit", 25 percent liked keeping embarrassing photos off their hard drives, and 33 percent enjoyed a sunbathe while accessing their files.

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