“The cloud” is a term we hear quite often in the business and tech worlds, but does the average consumer really know what it is?  Well, the short answer is no.  In a study performed by Wakefield Research, the majority of people asked “what is the cloud?” believed it was actually the white fluffy thing in the sky, and had no idea it had anything to do with technology.  Twenty-two percent of people admitted in the survey that they pretended to know what the cloud was in interviews, at work, and even on first dates, but really had no clue.  Even more troublesome, of those who did know what it was, 51% thought it could be affected by stormy weather.  Although there is a severe misunderstanding of how the cloud works, many of these people are using it on a daily basis.


Of all the respondents who claimed they didn’t use the cloud at all, 97% of them use services like Facebook, Twitter, play online games, or use online banking, all of which use cloud technology.  Technology has become so easy to use that we don’t even have to understand it to use it.  In fact, these users didn’t even know that they were using it in the first place.  Many of us take advantage of the technology around us, without taking time to understand how it works, or how to maximize its use to our benefit.

Not all hope is lost though.  Despite a lack of knowledge of the cloud itself, Americans understand how beneficial it can be to businesses and the economy once it is explained to them.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, cloud services helped generate an additional $400 billion in revenue in 2011, and can help small businesses save money and upgrade their services.  In the survey by Wakefield, 68% of Americans recognized the economic benefits and supported it.  Younger individuals (ages 18-25) were more likely to believe that cloud services would create jobs.

As with most new technologies and trends, like working from home or BYOD, cloud computing sparks concerns of security and privacy.  The top deterrents for those who refused to use the cloud were cost at 34%, security at 32% and privacy at 31%.  Many of these fears can be cast aside if the network security is set up properly, although many still think that confidential data will somehow be leaked or stolen.

Whether you understand it or not, you probably use it a little every day.  Do you store videos online?  That’s the cloud!  Do you backup your files through an online service?  That’s on the cloud too!  So take a minute to appreciate the technology around you, and how lucky we all are to have it.