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Why the term “cloud” may be drifting away from enterprise IT terminology

By Darren Fields, Regional Director
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In business today, we are used to referring to “cloud” and “cloud adoption” within conversations relating to enterprise infrastructure and business transformation. But the next generation of workers have grown up with the cloud and have never seen the need to distinctly label the technology.

Citrix, in partnership with Censuswide, wanted to explore these contrasting perceptions and attitudes towards the cloud. It quizzed 750 IT decision makers in companies with 250 or more employees across the UK, and in conjunction ran a separate survey of 1,000 young people aged 12-15 to identify the next generation’s perspective on cloud.

A standout finding among the IT leader respondents is that 26% believe the term “cloud” will be obsolete by 2025. Of those who don’t see a future for the term, 56% predict that cloud technology will be so embedded in the enterprise that it will no longer require separate terminology. Above all, it seems we are reaching a point where enterprise cloud services, be it public, private or hybrid, will be so well-established that “cloud” will soon be an irrelevant signifier.

The possible extinction of the term cloud is also mirrored in the next generation of workers, who will begin entering the workforce in 2021. Whilst 83% of 12 to 15-year-olds recognize that cloud describes where they, as consumers, store their photos and music, and two-thirds say they would regularly or sometimes use the term cloud with their peers, as many as 30% don’t really know what the term means in isolation. One third also say that they never use the term ‘cloud’ outside of ICT classes at school.

The gap between positive cloud perception and strategic application

Among the IT decision-makers questioned, almost nine in 10 say cloud is extremely or quite important to their organization, with the number rising to 93% among the largest organizations—those with annual profits above £500m. The biggest drivers cited for cloud adoption are improved productivity, lower costs, better security, improved performance, and a digital transformation agenda.

Currently, there is a notable gap between belief in cloud and the real-world confidence IT decision-makers have in its strategic application. Only 37% of IT leaders are happy to describe their cloud strategy as fully detailed and aligned to business objectives, while 46% are more cautious, saying they have a cloud strategy in place but that it isn’t very detailed. Although over 80% of IT budget-holders feel that they have fairly or very advanced cloud strategy, there’s still a ways to go before its application and fit is so customized as to get the most out of the benefits that the cloud has to offer. This also leaves approximately one in six of surveyed IT decision-makers of sizeable companies with no cloud plan of any sort in place yet.

The future

There’s no doubt that cloud as a concept is already weakening, just as the services are being invisibly embedded into business practices. It will be interesting to see how cloud perceptions play out. It is poised to be a fascinating barometer of technology evolution when the digital-born generation enters the workforce.

This article was produced by Citrix and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

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