Execs Differ on the Cloud

When it comes to cloud computing, senior-level executives and IT professionals have very different opinions about the cloud's role as a game-changer in their business operations.

That's the finding of a survey recently conducted by {complink 1544|Dell Inc.} and independent market research firm Marketing Solutions Corp. Most notably, the survey finds that IT professionals view the cloud as having “immense potential,” while non-technical executives may be inclined to dismiss the cloud “as just a passing fad.”

According to Dell's press release:

    Asked to choose from among a variety of statements best summarizing attitudes about the cloud, the 223 responding IT professionals were most likely to view it as an extension of long-term trends toward remote networks and virtualization (47 percent of respondents), though many also called it a radically new way to think about their own IT function (37 percent). But when asked to select the one statement that best describes how they think their non-IT executives perceive the cloud, the answers were noticeably different: Only 26 percent of IT pros think senior leaders view the cloud as a logical extension of IT development. Yet 37 percent deemed their business leaders mostly likely to describe the cloud as having “immense potential,” contrasted with only 22 percent of the IT pros who said that was their own top descriptor. At the same time, these IT professionals say business leaders are more inclined than they are to believe the cloud is just a passing fad.

The Dell report addresses some of the issues raised by EBN contributing editor Jennifer Baljko in her blog, Heading Towards the Cloud, earlier this week. For example, in spite of the advantages the cloud has as a supply chain platform, only five percent of respondents in Dell's survey mustered any support for the cloud for supply chain use.

The survey's respondents were also asked to name the top three potential barriers to the adoption of cloud-based solutions. According to the release:

  • 57 percent of respondents said they perceived data security as a barrier, and 51 percent of respondents said they believe their business leaders thought so.
  • 32 percent of respondents cited potential problems with industry compliance or governance, and 30 percent said they believe their business leaders thought so.
  • Disaster recovery concerns were third, at 27 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

These perspectives represent important data for companies like Dell that are heavily investing in the cloud. While IT managers embrace the cloud as a natural extension of IT services, business managers are still looking for proof for ROI.

“The survey data validates a perceived lingering disconnect in expectations between IT professionals and senior business executives, and we as an industry need to continue to drive transparency and focus on business results and outcomes to help bridge that communications gap,” said Steve Schuckenbrock, President, Dell Services, in the press release.

10 comments on “Execs Differ on the Cloud

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    June 16, 2011

    Similar reaction was observed when the IT professionals started to embrace the Internet as a business medium and the extension to the standalone IT services. Whereas the early adopters saw immense benefit of this new IT paradigm and convinced their business bosses to leverage it to globalise their businesses, the conservative one's  made   light of the idea that anything published on the internet could be taken seriously by the business community. Internet at that time was seen as the young techies pass time . The initial web sites were all static depictions of the company product catelogues and nothing more. But soon the tide covered everyone and now we are discussing whether Intenet should be decalred a basic human right!


    We are going to tread the same path with cloud computing. As more and more businesses see the value of embracing the cloud, the standards, security & regulations, legal framework all will evolve in a natural process.

  2. Daniel
    June 16, 2011

    Barbara, from IT point of view, cloud is a new technology having immense opportunities to explore. Around 03 months back, I had put one proposal for using private cloud for ASIC/FPGA design labs. After reading my proposal admin and managerial boss (non technical) made comments that it’s not feasible and a non working model. We had taken it as a challenge and develop proto type lab settings by using internal cloud and virtual resources. Finally they approved and now it’s grown to 2-3 similar labs within our organization. What I would like to point out is, non technical peoples always have a second thought because of ignorance of technology and implementation details.

  3. SunitaT
    June 16, 2011

    “While IT managers embrace the cloud as a natural extension of IT services, business managers are still looking for proof for ROI.”

    Interesting to know that the IT managers and business managers have different opinions aboud cloud. But isn't it the responsibility of the IT managers to convince the business managers about the benefits of clouds ? Does it mean there is communication between the IT and business managers ?

  4. Jay_Bond
    June 16, 2011

    Like many other new developments, the cloud will gain more momentum with execs as more companies have success. To many execs the cloud is like the early days of the internet. There was much speculation as to how much benefit companies would see from the internet. The cloud still has many doubters. As word travels around about the success of the cloud through a variety of operations, more execs will open their eyes and give it a chance.

    June 16, 2011

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jacob's post.  While I am as wary of new technolgies as the next person I see the cloud as an inevitable extension of how we use computers today.  If you think about how we interact with the internet already (banking, purchasing, entertainment etc) much of our life is already on the cloud.  It will take some time to overcome the doubts people have but these certainly will be addressed in future.  Using non-cloud computing at home today we still have issues with hackers, viruses, hardware malfunctions etc. so how is it so different from cloud based computing.  The issue will simply occur in a different location.

  6. tioluwa
    June 16, 2011

    What inovative technology didn't get criticized and almost killed due to initial ignorance of its benefits, fear and the tendency to want to stick to what is known?

    Let every cloud critic give the cloud a break, once the cloud gets its “act” right, everyone will run to it.

    Jacob's experience is a great example.

    However, i don't buy total reliance on the cloud, i see it as more of a backup.

  7. AnalyzeThis
    June 16, 2011

    @Jacob, I do agree that many people are either ignorant of what “cloud” technology really is or merely misinformed over what cloud means due to the variety of rather questionable marketing campaigns that are out there.

    If you only watch TV commercials, you probably think the “cloud” is only good for watching TV from your home computer or maybe sharing files.

    Now while you would think executives are more well-informed than your average consumer, I don't believe many of them truly understand the advantages of the approach or are even able to wrap their head around the concept as a whole.

    It is a whole new way of thinking and operating. You can't expect everyone to immediately understand.

  8. Daniel
    June 17, 2011

    DennisQ, I do agree that most of the non technical managers are thinking only in traditional way. In other ways we can say that their risk bearing capacity is very low because of either the ignorance of technology or don’t want to think in a different way. Most of the IT applications are using one or other way of Cloud technology, for example sharing the white papers or doc across PC and accessing data’s across servers, some of the online tools etc. When it formulated all these application under the brand “cloud”, it becomes a business model. Nothing more than that…

  9. mfbertozzi
    June 18, 2011

    I believe basic way to promote and explain better cloud, could be for example a list of features / services it is doable to provide and map how they have been moved to  ” on demand ” paradigm instead of ” all in local ” paradigm.

  10. mario8a
    June 23, 2011


    around seven years ago, our CEO did a presentation where he showed the technologic advance for the incoming years, showing people having their agenda with cell phone carrier provider, closing the garage or turning off the lights using BT technology, and the idea of not even having your files in your computer but loaded and protected on the internet.

    I think we are getting there.


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