The ideal underlying the cloud computing approach is that end-users — and even IT professionals — can run computing jobs with no awareness of what servers or networks are making it all happen. So, it’s not surprising that a new survey shows there isn’t a lot of awareness of what, exactly, the cloud is all about.

The survey of more than 1,000 American adults, conducted by Wakefield Research for Citrix, shows that few average Americans know what cloud computing is.

The survey was obviously designed to extract some cute sound bites. For example, it is reported, when asked what “the cloud” is, a majority responded it’s either an actual cloud (specifically a “fluffy white thing”), the sky or something related to the weather (29%). Only 16% said they think of a computer network to store, access and share data from Internet-connected devices. (That’s the right answer.) The clincher is that 95% actually already use cloud in some form, from online banking for social networks.

So, does it really matter that many people don’t understand cloud computing, since a lot of it is or will be behind the scenes anyway?

Yes, it does matter, and here’s why: many peoples’ jobs are being or will be reshaped by cloud. Not just IT professionals, but professionals from a range of disciplines will be expected to know what computing resources they can leverage to get their jobs done. Take marketing professionals, for example. Already, if you want to get ahead in marketing, you need to understand social media management and tracking. Anyone still focusing on printed direct mail is woefully behind. Cloud adds a new dimension to marketing, as well as sales, operations and finance.

Many respondents, in fact, are aware of the changes about to sweep through their organizations. Three in five (59%) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud. This finding alone “indicates people feel it’s time to figure out the cloud or risk being left behind in their professional lives,” Citrix reports. In addition, most Americans (68%) recognize the economic benefits after learning more about the cloud. The most recognized benefits are that the cloud helps consumers by lowering costs (35%), spurs small business growth (32%) and boosts customer engagement for businesses (35%). Millennials are most likely to believe that the cloud generates jobs (26% Millennials, 19% Boomers).

Some “fake it until you make it” is also at play. One in five Americans (22%) admit that they’ve pretended to know what the cloud is or how it works. Some of the false claims take place during work hours, with one third of these respondents faking an understanding of the cloud in the office and another 14% doing so during a job interview. Interestingly, an additional 17% have pretended to know what the cloud was during a first date. (Cloud computing is the topic on a first date? Yikes…)

Source: Forbes