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Cloud Computing: Terrible or Terribly Misunderstood?

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The Government Business Council (GBC) recently asked federal managers to rank eight different areas of government spending, from most to least efficient. Spending on technology came in sixth, with only 56 percent of federal managers feeling tax dollars spent on technology were used wisely.

When GBC asked the managers to rate the quality of various technologies and how frequently they are used, the results revealed an interesting disparity.

For all the talk we hear about cloud computing, only 24 percent of the 548 respondents felt cloud computing was of high quality, and even fewer, just 15 percent, said they used it on a regular basis. On the flip side, nearly 80 percent of federal managers felt that digital records and enterprise content management systems were high quality systems -- though only 48 percent said they had access to the technology or used it on a regular basis.

You can see the full results of the gap analysis below:

Dana Grinshpan, the GBC's Research Manager, said in cases where quality is high and frequency is low, the problem is most likely access. 

"One of the best reasons to run a gap analysis of quality versus frequency is to get a more nuanced picture of perceptions, especially with regard to tools," said Grinshpan. "For example, high quality and low frequency of  use could indicate that feds perceive this tool will make their jobs easier, but low frequency could indicate that they don’t have the opportunity to use it."

She added, "With regard to the low quality and low frequency scores of cloud computing, it is likely one of a few things are at play: Feds don’t know how to use cloud computing, don’t realize they are using it, or don’t actually know what cloud computing is."

A new study backs up her claim that many don't know what cloud computing is. According to a study from Citrix Systems, many respondents thought cloud computing had something to do with an actual cloud or weather.

As federal managers look for savings across their business functions, its clear that education on how new technologies can be utilized is just as important as ensuring wise investments are made in high quality IT systems. 

Learn more about federal cost savings from GBC's "Cutting Costs" infographic here

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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