Most Canadian C-level executives are not familiar with cloud computing, and even half of those who are do not know what it really means, according to a survey released this week by Microsoft Canada. Ninety percent said they are not familiar with what cloud computing means, and only 45 percent of the 10 percent who are familiar with it chose the correct definition from multiple choices.
The survey was conducted by Northstar for Microsoft, and includes responses from 476 C-level executives for private sector companies in the financial and professional services, retail, oil and gas, construction and telecommunications industries.
The result is particularly shocking when the range of industries is considered. Construction and telecommunications companies have not only diverse uses for the cloud, but presumably different levels of familiarity among employees, and major Canadian telecom Rogers is also a cloud services vendor.
“I think the findings reveal a disconnect between what the cloud really is, what it offers, and how it is perceived by Canada’s C-suite decision-makers,” said Microsoft Canada president Janet Kennedy. “To many of them, especially those in smaller businesses, exactly what the cloud is remains unknown but the bottom line benefits are highly valued – bigger profits, better service, lower costs and a more satisfied customer base.”
Security is the main concern cited, with 65 percent saying they do not feel secure sharing business information and data with a cloud provider, and even more (72 percent) fearing for the security of confidential strategic plans. Fourty-five percent said their organizations data would be “unsafe” in the cloud.
“This lack of awareness about cloud-based benefits in general, coupled with persistent concerns about data security should be cause for concern because they are holding Canadian businesses back,” Kennedy said.
Security concern has historically been the greatest barrier to cloud adoption, particularly among SMBs. This is despite a trend among IT decision makers towards the position that data is as secure in the cloud as on-premises, as shown in a 2012 Microsoft report.
Almost half of executives both from small businesses (45 percent) and overall (43 percent) believe the cloud benefits only large organizations. Accordingly, 61 percent of small business executives are not involved in or discussing cloud adoption, whereas only 26 percent of medium and large business executives are not.
This stark contrast clearly points out a path to customer growth for cloud service providers, at least in Canada, if not globally: raise confidence in cloud security and awareness of what cloud can do for businesses, particularly small ones.