Microsoft Canada says greatest hurdle to cloud computing is awareness

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New C-suite survey suggests Canadian business execs are unaware of what the cloud means and how it can benefit their enterprises

Canadian business executives have heard plenty of talk about the cloud, but most – especially in smaller companies – have a very low awareness of the potential benefits of cloud-based solutions to their businesses. That’s the finding of a new survey of Canadian C-suite executives released today by Microsoft Canada.

“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.”

The survey, conducted for Microsoft Canada by Northstar, sampled C-suite level decision-makers in private sector businesses including financial and professional services, retail, oil & gas, construction and telecommunications companies.

The Microsoft Canada survey found that:

  • 90 per cent of senior Canadian executives are not familiar with what cloud computing means;
  • Two-thirds are “only just beginning to familiarize themselves” with the cloud;
  • Of the 10 per cent who feel they are familiar with cloud computing, fewer than half (45 per cent) were able to select the correct definition from a list of choices.

CANADIAN EXECS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT CLOUD SECURITY

Security concerns top the list of reasons Canada’s C-suite is leery of the cloud, with one third of respondents saying it is the top barrier:

  • The Microsoft Canada survey found 65 per cent of senior executives do not feel secure in sharing their business data and information with a cloud services provider;
  • Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) would be uncomfortable sharing confidential strategic plans in the cloud;
  • 45 per cent feel their company’s information would be downright “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.

“The fact is that the cloud enables companies to be more efficient, more responsive and able to innovate more quickly. Cloud-based software, data analytics and IT infrastructure help businesses be more responsive to changes in customer demand and preferences, while the security of data and multiple backup/disaster recovery provisions cloud solutions offer is unparalleled by anything an on-site server array could provide.”

CANADA’S SMALL BUSINESSES ARE NOT LOOKING TO THE CLOUD

The Microsoft survey also revealed a significant split in perceptions and engagement on cloud-based solutions between small business and larger-sized enterprises:

  • Overall, 43 per cent of Canadian business executives believe that the cloud is really only for large organizations – among small businesses, 45 per cent agree with that perception;
  • 61 per cent of small business executives say they are not involved in or even talking about moving to cloud computing in their company, versus roughly three-quarters (74 per cent) of medium and large-sized business leaders who are;
  • Execs at four in ten small companies (36 per cent) generally don’t know what cloud services are used for;
  • And one-quarter of small business executives admit to “not having a clue” what cloud computing really is or does.

“The data suggests the cloud is viewed by small business leaders as a large and potentially costly mystery – but the reality is that virtually all of them are utilizing cloud services in at least one aspect of their business operations already, whether it’s email, hosted data storage or collaboration tools,” Kennedy said.

Microsoft and other technology companies need to continue to educate business leaders about the benefits offered by cloud-based solutions, Kennedy says, noting that the same holds true for concerns about the security of cloud-stored corporate data and documents.

“They’ve got their toes in the water already; we need to better convince them to take the full plunge.

“Our focus is cloud-first, mobile-first because we recognize that those two dimensions together represent the future of how business is going to store, access and protect its data, software, collaboration tools and customer relationship management analytics. The survey shows we need to redouble our efforts in spreading the word of the range of possibilities the cloud offers to Canadian companies and the opportunities they will miss if they don’t take full advantage,” Kennedy said.

Operating in the cloud since Hotmail was introduced in 1995, Microsoft offers Canadian businesses customizable, end-to-end Cloud solutions – from Azure data storage and development tools and Dynamics CRM, to cloud-based software such as the Office 365 suite which gives employees seamless access from any device, with fixes and updates instantly available to all users.

Storing data in the cloud keeps it safe from fires, floods or malicious damage that could strike on-premise servers, and data is constantly backed up to multiple data centres. The cloud’s on-demand scalability means companies can save considerable amounts of money by not having to buy new physical hardware as storage needs increase – and IT staff can spend their time working on innovations rather than tending server rooms.

On October 20th, Microsoft announced the new G-series virtual machines, which, along with Premium Storage, will enable customers to run the most demanding workloads in the largest virtual machines available in the public cloud today. The Microsoft Cloud Platform System, powered by Dell, is the next step in hybrid cloud and brings Azure to the datacenter. In addition the Azure Marketplace offers a new way for startups and ISVs to connect with enterprises and Azure customers everywhere so their innovative solutions can be deployed in just a few clicks. Microsoft will announce that all Office 365 subscribers will receive unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost. Microsoft also announced yesterday that all Office 365 subscribers will receive unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost.

You can learn more about Microsoft’s Cloud Solutions by registering for the Microsoft Cloud & Mobility Summit: www.cloudandmobilitysummit.com [signoff predefined=”Enjoy this?” icon=”icon-users”][/signoff]

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