Trust and The Cloud – Insights From The Economist Intelligence Unit

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The cloud is everywhere today. About 58% of companies have at least some of their data in the cloud, according to IDC. So like all new technologies, the cloud impacts much of a company’s operations. But logically, the impact of new technologies over time is linked to trust. Users need to feel safe and secure about issues, including reliability and access for a transformation in work or life practices and the broader economic benefits from such innovations, such as cost and efficiency gains, often trail this all-in approach. To explore any links between trust in cloud technology and its tangible and intangible benefits, the Economist Intelligence Unit in April polled almost 500 executives in 10 countries on their use of and trust in cloud technology. We then separately asked them how their organizations fare compared to their peers on a number of performance metrics ranging from profit to sector leadership.

Use Of Cloud

Through these questions, the study assesses connections between cloud use, cloud trust, and organizational performance. So here’s what we found. Use of the cloud is widespread, it’s growing, and it’s transforming a broad range of activities. In fact, roughly 72% of respondents report that cloud use has actually transformed their information technology. So does trust in the cloud matter? Seems so. High trust in the cloud correlates with numerous positive business outcomes, most notably higher profits. There’s a clear and statistically significant link between both overall trust levels and changes in revenue, profitability, and share price. As you’ll see in this chart, a much larger portion of those who say their organizations have very or somewhat high trust in the cloud cite higher performance in a number of areas compared to their peers who cite lower trust levels.

Some areas that stand out include financial performance, agility, and ability to innovate. Similarly, a significantly larger portion of those who report very or somewhat high levels of cloud trust note higher transformation in many areas than their peers who cite lower trust levels. Areas they say have been transformed by the cloud range from business models to collaboration. Surprisingly, correlations in our data between cloud use alone and the business benefits of the cloud are weak or not statistically significant. This suggests that the transformative nature of the cloud on an organization’s operations hinges in part on widespread embrace of the cloud rather than its use alone. In other words, it’s not enough to buy something or install something, you have to trust it.

Cloud Trust

This brings us to the importance of championing cloud trust rather than just rolling it out. Many more respondents who say their organizations have high cloud trust also say leadership backs cloud use and that cloud use is a competitive advantage. Similarly, 61% of respondents who cite overall very high cloud trust levels also say that senior leadership makes cloud trust a top priority. Meanwhile, only 16% of those with lower trust levels note senior leadership commitment to the cloud. Also, 62% of respondents who say their organization has a very high level of cloud trust overall say that the degree of trust in the cloud is a competitive advantage versus 45% of other respondents. But there’s still work ahead, because though cloud use is growing, trust in its use is slowing. Levels of trust in cloud technology have grown markedly, but still lag the extent of its use. Notably, 60% of respondents think that current levels of trust are below the level they believe cloud technology merits.

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