More than one-half (54%) of online adults in the US say they never use the cloud; however, 95% of those who think they're not using the cloud, actually are: 65% use online banking, 63% shop online, 58% use social networking sites, 45% play online games, and 29% store photos online—all cloud-based activities—according to a survey from Citrix.

Moreover, nearly one in three (32%) online adults say the cloud is "a thing of the future," while nearly one in four (22%) admit they've pretended to know what the cloud is or how it works.

Below, additional findings from the Citrix Cloud Survey, conducted by Wakefield Research.

Asked to define what "the cloud" is, a plurality (29%) of Americans cited some type of weather-related term (e.g., the sky, or an actual cloud). Only 16% said (correctly) the cloud is a computer network to store, access, and share data from Internet-connected devices.

Moreover, it's not just the name that's puzzling. Most Americans are also unsure about how the cloud works: 51% said they believe stormy weather interferes with cloud computing:

Even so, most (68%) respondents, after being exposed to the meaning of the cloud, recognized its benefits and cited the following as the cloud's top economic advantages:

  • Lower costs: 35%
  • Improving consumer engagement for businesses: 35%
  • A catalyst for small business growth: 32%

Also, 40% of the Americans surveyed cited the ability to access work information from home in their "birthday suit" as a top advantage of the cloud, while 35% cited the ability to share information with people they'd rather not interact with in person.

Despite its advantages, some people still resist using the cloud.

Among those who said they're not using the cloud or not doing so often, 34% cited cost as a key obstacle, 32% cited security concerns, 31% cited privacy issues, and 15% said they didn't know enough about the cloud.


Only 1 in 10 of the Americans surveyed said they're still using purchased software that performs the same functions as cloud-based solutions.

About the data: The Citrix Cloud Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among a nationally representative sample of 1,006 American adults age 18+ via email invitation and online survey, August 2-7, 2012.

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Americans Hazy on the Meaning of 'Cloud Computing'

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.