Google-sponsored study: Trusting the cloud is good for the bottom line

Just about every enterprise has moved some IT to the cloud, but that's not enough to guarantee a positive impact on a firm's profits, a new survey shows.

Business leaders know they should shift at least some of their IT to the cloud, but unless they actually trust the cloud, they won't really reap the economic benefits, according to a new study commissioned by Google.

The report, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), found that 99 percent of organizations are already relying at least partially on cloud computing, yet just 16 percent have a "very high" level of trust in the environment. The companies that said they have high levels of trust in the cloud reported a 9-percent rise in profitability year over year, while more skeptical companies reported a 1-percent increase.

"The relationship between trust in cloud technology and positive business outcomes at high-trust organisations appears to be linked to their willingness to foster business transformations that leverage what the cloud offers," the study said. "Put simply, higher cloud trust appears to facilitate behavioural and process change within an organisation."

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The EIU surveyed 452 senior executives across 10 countries, examining their use of the cloud and their attitudes toward its security, reliability, accessibility, and scale.

Developing a sense of trust in cloud environments depends on the leadership of senior executives, giving employees the support to do their jobs on the cloud, and encouraging employees to experiment with cloud-use to modify organizational behavior in big and small ways, the report said.

Along with greater profits, the study suggested that higher levels of trust in the cloud results in improvements in non-financial metrics, like a company's agility, ability to innovate, and reputation.

The study found that security is the biggest factor keeping organizations from more enthusiastically embracing the cloud, with 45 percent calling it one of the primary barriers to increased cloud-use. Thirty-five percent named compliance and regulatory issues, and 26 percent said it was due to an inability to integrate with existing, on-premises systems. Several other factors were cited by more than one in five respondents, including a lack of common standards, a lack of necessary functionality, and a lack of technical expertise at an organization.

As Google's enterprise business tries to keep up with the likes of Amazon Web Services, it's worked to address these concerns. In April, for instance, the company added security and privacy certifications to its cloud platform.

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