Drill-down analysis of the results of Saugatuck’s 2013 Cloud Survey found significant variations in the top concerns that business and IT executives had with regard to the adoption of Cloud-based offerings. While Saugatuck was not surprised that “Data Security / Privacy” continued to rank as the top concern when aggregated across all buyer segments, other top concerns varied significantly – reflecting different realities by size, region and buyer type (IT vs. business).

Why is it Happening?

In June 2013, Saugatuck conducted its most recent Cloud buyer demand survey. This year the survey results include responses from 218 senior IT, business, and finance executives. The responding executives represent companies in various industries with a wide range of employee populations, and located in multiple geographic regions. More than eighty percent of the survey participants hold titles of Director or above. This Research Alert focuses on the responses to the following question:

Of the following, please rank the top three (3) most important concerns that you have related to the Cloud.

Figure 1 (see below) summarizes the data for this question, both in the aggregate and sorted by size of company (employee count). However, looking at the data across all segments – by size, region or buyer type – Data Security / Privacy clearly came out on top as the top concern again this year (as it has in almost all of our surveys for the past 7 years). A distant second and third in the aggregate were issues related to Data / Transaction Integrity and Regulatory Compliance – which is a top four concern across all segments (except small and mid-size companies – see below).

Figure 1: Top Concerns Regarding Cloud – By Size of Company
Source: Saugatuck Technology, 2013 Cloud Survey, N=218 (global), June 2013.

Saugatuck believes that Cloud-based offerings can and do deliver very high levels of security and integrity for both data and transactions. We account for this continued high degree of concerns as mostly an emotional response rather than being rooted in reality, as most Cloud providers deliver superior security and data integrity relative to what is delivered by internal company data centers.

However, looking deeper at the survey results shows that only a few percentage points separate many of the concerns raised after these initial two issues. Upon segmenting the data further we found some results to be counter-intuitive:

  • “Regulatory Compliance” ranked as the 2nd highest concern for European respondents; however, “Cross-border data restrictions” ranked at the bottom of the list. In contrast, Asia saw almost a complete reversal, with “Cross-border data restrictions” ranking 4th on the list of concerns, yet “Regulatory Compliance” ranked last. These relative rankings clearly identify differences in how Cloud-based offerings will be implemented and/or used – and the country and regional regulatory compliance climate that exists. For example, mandates about data sovereignty essentially obviate “Cross Border” concerns for many European respondents (especially in France and Germany).
  • Non-IT executives ranked the technical concern of “Data Integration” higher than did IT executives. Similarly, non-IT executives ranked concerns about “Integration”, “Provider lock-in”, and “Viability of Cloud providers” higher than did IT executives. Saugatuck believes that these relative rankings are largely due to perceptions built up by these executive groups during early / pilot implementation(s) – which may or may not still be true today given the maturation of the Cloud.  This is particularly true around CRM, Service Management and Collaboration-focused offerings, where non-IT executives may have observed the challenges confronted during early / pilot implementations. Interestingly, we are finding that IT executives – once a source of resistance to Cloud – are increasingly becoming its champion, as it redefines its role, understands how it best can be used, and gains significant real-world experience.
  • As noted, large enterprises (5,000+ employees) rank security- and transaction-related concerns the highest. However, medium enterprises (1,000-4,999 employees) ranked operational-related concerns (i.e., “Integration” and “Provider Transparency”) just after security as their top concerns. And, small enterprises (100-999 employees) ranked both security and operational concerns highly – especially as it concerns their ability to customize Cloud solutions to their needs. These rankings reflect the dominant focus of executives in each size enterprise. Large enterprises have the staff to resolve most technical and operational challenges leaving concerns about very detailed / specific potential security exposures. Medium enterprise staffs are heavily focused on operational challenges. And, small enterprise staffs are often overwhelmed by many aspects of Cloud and have general concerns across both operations and security.

 This blog originally appeared at Saugatuck Lens360.