Cloud adoption surveys tend to miss the mark

Posted by Ron Miller on Jun 18, 2014 10:25:00 AM

canstockphoto19453432I've always taken cloud survey results with a grain of salt. Surveys of IT often fail to take into account unofficial use of cloud services. IT might not know about it, but it doesn't mean business cloud users aren't there. Same goes for consumers. They probably don't know the buzz words, even if they are using cloud services.

That's why I found a widely reported survey by SOASTA that 2 in 5 Americans use the cloud somewhat amusing. Trust me, if people are on the internet they are using the cloud. And if you have a smartphone, the chances are even greater that you're using the cloud, whether you call it that or not.

In fact, recent surveys suggest that somewhere between over half and two-thirds of Americans own smartphones. Something tells me those users just might be accessing Dropbox for their files, using Instagram to share pictures, getting mail on Gmail, or accessing Uber to flag a ride. All of these services are based in the cloud, but if you asked most non-technical people, they wouldn't know that.

And they don't care what you call it either. They only know they can access services from any device, that files sync across devices, and regardless of where you open an app - whether it's your laptop, tablet or smartphone - everything just works.

The "cloud" is a great term for journalists, analysts and marketers to have a common frame of reference when talking about the concept, but if you walked onto the street and asked most people what it was, I'm guessing they wouldn't really know.

In the trailer to Jason Segel's upcoming movie, Sex Tape, he cries out, "It's the cloud! Nobody knows how it works." It was funny that Hollywood writers were making fun of the word, but it was funny because there was some truth to it. People don't understand the concept.

I like to tell the story about meeting my elderly neighbor a couple years ago. His first question upon learning I was a technology journalist was: "What the heck is the cloud anyway?"

A similar survey years ago asked if people used RSS on a regular basis. Nobody - but the geeks - knew that RSS was Really Simple Syndication and you were using it (at the time) in Google Reader and your customized Google and Yahoo! home pages. They only knew they got content they wanted to get regularly, like a magazine subscription service for the internet. They didn't care about the underlying technology. They knew it worked for their purposes (and it's still working today in Feedly, Flipboard and other tools).

That's why it's hard to take these surveys seriously. People might not know what we call it, but that doesn't mean they aren't using it. It only means that your average person isn't as linked to the technology buzzword scene as those of us who make a living working in it.

(c) Can Stock Photo

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Topics: Cloud Trends

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