Cloud-Washing Creates A Reputation Crisis For The Technology Sector

Cloud Confusion

A recent poll worryingly showed that technology companies are full of more confusing waffle than politicians, bankers and law firms combined. The results were stark.

Over half of the business people surveyed felt “jargon junkies” at technology companies were guilty of using confusing words and acronyms, compared to 24% for government, 16% for bankers and only 9% for lawyers. As a consequence, many business decision makers have been left completely bewildered.

It might seem like a joke that 22% believed Platform as a Service (PaaS) was a new philosophy in railway management, 16% thought Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a new road project and 15% identified cloud computing as a free Wi-Fi service for Internet access in public places. And it would be funny, if it wasn’t so serious. Those findings should be a source of discomfort, if not shame, for many of those in IT companies whose job it is to evangelise and explain technologies like cloud computing.

They might take some comfort in the finding that 83% of respondents had a broad understanding of the concept of cloud computing except for the fact that an equal number believed cloud service providers could do more to “demystify” the cloud.

Even worse, only 6% thought cloud service providers had a good understanding of their needs, 82% said their cloud computing providers were not listening to them and 22% believed cloud services were too rigid and inflexible. Any way you look at it, those findings are a damning verdict on the way in which technology companies are marketing, selling and supporting cloud computing to businesses.

I was especially staggered to realise that the frustration levels are broadly the same for IT people as non-IT people. So if customer IT departments are confused by cloud, what chance do “normal” people and mainstream business users have?

It’s hardly an ideal situation for businesses to be bombarded with confusing jargon while being offered services that lack flexibility by suppliers that don’t listen to them. The vast majority of business decision makers are struggling to hack through the marketing hype to arrive at a proper understanding of the application of the technology and the benefits and threats it presents to their organisations

Their cause is further hindered by the belief marketing departments at technology brands are increasingly guilty of ”cloud-washing”; putting the word ‘cloud’ to long-standing tech terms to brand them as new and exciting. It’s crazy.

Cloud computing has the potential to be one of the biggest technology revolutions in the business world since the Internet. Everyone is talking about it. It’s a shame then that businesses have to work so hard to figure it out for themselves. But it’s no surprise when nearly every single business surveyed believed it had been a victim of cloud-washing.

At present, many technology companies are telling businesses everything is fine and making promises that any issues can be solved. The problem is that businesses, quite rightly, no longer believe what they are hearing. The industry is losing credibility. That credibility needs to be regained. Quickly.

And the process of reclaiming that credibility needs to start now. ‘Up to the Cloud’ encourages debate and promotes industry discussion as well as aiming to help businesses with a jargon buster and cloud choice decision tree. The goal is to help grow the cloud market as a whole; after all a confused market doesn’t buy, it waits.

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Campbell Williams is a 15-year industry veteran who has held various sales, marketing and business development management roles in a variety of manufacturing, carrier and reseller companies. He started his career in Mitel where he was part of a team that drove the company’s transition from a direct sales and traditional PBX business to a channel focused and IP telephony software provider. Director-level positions at AT Communications and Charterhouse Voice & Data followed before he joined Six Degrees Group in 2011. Campbell is a well-known figure in the industry and he has travelled the world as a presenter and subject-matter expert in a variety of technology fields, including twice addressing global United Nations conferences.

  • PlainEnglishTechPR

    This is a real concern, and tech marketing departments should bear this in mind every time they communicate with their audiences – yes, talk to tech people in their language but acronyms and jargon vary from company to company – we mustn’t assume people know what we’re talking about! Is there a link to the poll? How many people were surveyed?