The cloud extends beyond cost savings to encompass many things; the streamlining of information, the instant sharing of files to promote project management and immediate access to apps that springboard more efficient operations, among other things. But as much as consumers and professionals use cloud computing in their everyday lives and operations – and as big as it’s being beefed up to be in 2013 – many are still vague as to what the cloud means and what it actually does.
But how could this happen? We all remember the infamous study done last year that exposed in shocking detail how consumers were lost about what the cloud means. Citrix conducted a survey last year revealing that 40 percent of those polled believed one of the key advantages to the cloud was its ability to access work information while wearing their “birthday suit.” Interestingly, another 25 percent felt the cloud was a great resource for keeping the hard drive free of embarrassing videos.
What’s really embarrassing, however, are these horrible interpretations of cloud technology. After that whole debacle, how could it be that even through the New Year, there is still an unwavering uncertainty?
According to one report, two-thirds of UK consumers do not have a clear understanding of the cloud or even what it offers. This data is based on a survey completed by Webfusion, a UK-based hosting group. In a poll of more than 1,000 people, only 33.8 percent reported that they understood what it means for something to be in the cloud.
While roughly one-third of respondents recognized that Dropbox (News - Alert), iTunes and Gmail/Hotmail are cloud services, a similar number also reported that none of these services were cloud-based.
The clear challenge here is that while there appears to be some understanding of cloud computing, flakiness still prevails. The key driver in this confusion could be simple semantics and a lack of a standard when referring to cloud-based services. When references include SaaS (News - Alert), hosted services, cloud-based services, managed services, cloud communications, on demand availability and more – how do you narrow the focus?
This confusion is one reason why Forrester (News - Alert) has predicted one major change in terminology this year. The research firm suggests that companies will stop saying that everything is moving to the cloud. Not only will this help eliminate the confusion over technicalities involved in cloud service, but it could also acknowledge the fact that users may not even care about that aspect of the technology.
This change does ignore one important point, however: the cloud impacts everything we do. And, most of us are using the cloud even when we don’t realize it. For better or worse, consumers need to be educated on the cloud.
One thing that can certainly help is for the industry to stop changing its jargon and buzzwords every few years. When salesforce.com first hit the scene, “on demand” was the big focus as the cloud term had yet to see daylight. Now, as the ‘cloud’ remains ambiguous to many, there is some reasoning behind the talk of changing it again, or even doing away with it completely.
The reality is that consumers have used cloud communications for years without even knowing it; all they knew was that they were using the Internet. Whether they were sending an e-mail via Yahoo! or updating their status on Facebook (News - Alert), they were using the cloud.
For consumers to better understand the cloud in 2013, they can consider the following facts:
If consumers think about the use in these terms and the value they bring to their personal and/or work life, the cloud may begin to make a heck of a lot more sense this year.
Want to learn more about cloud computing solutions geared specifically towards small to medium-sized businesses? Don’t miss the Cloud4SMB Expo, collocated with ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at Cloud4SMB Expo. Follow us on Twitter.
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