Cloud Computing – it’s one of those buzzwords that gets technophiles’ pulses racing, and keeps futurologists in beer money. But what about the general public? What do they make of the cloud revolution? We set about finding out.
Using focus groups and in-depth interviews we found that most people don’t realise just how pervasive cloud computing is in their daily lives. They are typically only dimly aware that their photos, music, games, documents and social media comments are largely stored on someone else’s computers at some unspecified location: i.e. in the cloud. But also a growing minority have embraced cloud services, often paying to get the chief benefits that virtual storage offers: cost savings, space saving, flexibility.
Almost all make assumptions that their data is being stored securely and responsibly, but very few bother to check. Consequently, hardly anybody we spoke to say they worried about security, or whether the host company will remain solvent – instead, their primary concern is how their data will be used by the host company. Will they mess around with the privacy settings and allow others to see my cherished photos and embarrassing playlists? Will they use my private data to target advertising at me, and if so what will that say about me? Will my personal information be sold on to third parties?
There are plenty of compelling technical and commercial drivers for hosting your services in the cloud, but it’s vital to anticipate customer attitudes and market your services accordingly. Here’s 6 recommendations that came out of our research
1. Make privacy a selling point. Reassure your potential customers that their data is not only held securely, but that they as users will have complete control over who gets to access their content.
2. Peer review matters, so make it easy. Positive experiences from others are the single most effective catalysts in encouraging people to sign up for cloud-based services. Make it easy for customers to get social about your services
3. Promote the benefits, not the technical specifications. Cloud services are called cloud services for a reason, customers don’t need to understand what’s in the cloud, they want to know what benefits it gives them. Most customers don’t really understand what 100GB storage actually means – tell them what this equates to in real terms: the number of videos, photos and songs that they can store.
4. Be realistic about what your customers will actually buy.
So many companies take great ideas to the market – many of which people think are cool and innovative. But only a small proportion of these companies bother to check what their market will pay for, and bear in mind any privacy promises made when thinking of the commercial model.
5. If cost savings are a selling point, make the sums easy. Competition is only going to get stronger, and success will only come from showing customers the full cost savings they would get not just today, but over the lifetime of the service.
6. Above all, be human. People buy services from people. As trust is such an important factor in convincing customers to buy your services, make sure there is always access to real people. Our research tells us that people want human contact not just when things go wrong, but to reassure them that there is always access to someone who can explain things in plain English.
Further details of our research findings can be downloaded from our website.