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Canadians Slow To Move To Cloud

Computer in the cloudsWhen Janet Kennedy became president of Microsoft Canada about one year ago, she was told when she started the job Canada was not moving to the cloud.

And this was especially among small and medium sized business who are, as a result, missing out on better profits, lower costs, and more satisfied customers, she said at its ‘View from the Cloud’ event.

She said her task now is how to overcome challenges to help Canadian businesses take full advantage of migration to the cloud.

Plenty Of Talk

A survey of Canadian C-suite executives released at the event by Microsoft Canada shows 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. “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 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 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

The primary reason Canadian executives are staying away from the cloud is concerns about security as one third of respondents identified this as the top barrier. It also 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; and 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.”

Significant Split

There is 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
  • Executives at four in 10 small companies (36 per cent) generally don’t know what cloud services are used for
  • One-quarter of small business executives admit to ‘not having a clue’ what cloud computing really is or does.

While the data suggests the cloud is viewed by small business leaders as a large and potentially costly mystery, “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. This means Microsoft and other technology companies need to continue to educate business leaders about the benefits offered by cloud-based solutions, she said, 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.

Two Dimensions

“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,” she said.

Home Improvement Retailing Staff