You know when you hear someone say, “I swear, you can’t make this stuff up,” well let’s just say I had one of those moments when I came across a national survey conducted by Wakefield Research.

Sadly, of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed, the majority of respondents actually believe the cloud is related to weather, pillows, drugs, and even toilet paper.

The good news, however, is that those who may not understand the cloud, do understand its economic benefits and ability to act as a catalyst for small business growth. In fact, 59 percent believe the cloud is the “workplace of the future.”

While I’m happy there is a positive aspect to this all, it’s still pretty mind boggling as to how people associate the cloud with weather or drugs, yet somehow know and understand it’s capabilities as well. How does that even happen?

To make sense of these findings, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

According to the survey results, 51 percent of respondents, including a majority of Millennials, believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing. In addition, 33 percent see the cloud as a thing of the future, even though 97 percent are already using cloud services through online shopping, banking, social networking, and file sharing.

“This survey clearly shows that the cloud phenomenon is taking root in our mainstream culture, yet there is still a wide gap between the perceptions and realities of cloud computing,” said Kim DeCarlis, vice president of Corporate Marketing, Citrix. “While significant market changes like this take time, the transition from the PC era to the cloud era is happening at a remarkable pace.”

However, the majority of respondents overall seems to be quite perplexed by the idea of cloud computing. The survey found that:

Fake it till you make it

  • 22 percent admit they’ve pretended in the past to know what the cloud is or how it works.
  • 33 percent said this tends to happen more so in the workplace, while 14 percent said it happened to them during a job interview.
  • 17 percent have pretended to know what the cloud was during a first date.

They’re not the only ones

  • 56 percent of respondents believe that although they admit to not knowing, they feel others refer to cloud computing in conversations even though they don’t understand it either.

Not quite sure what it is

Let me first preface this by saying, this is my favorite part of the survey thus far.

  • “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 weather (29 percent).”
  • 16 percent almost got it right saying they think of it as a computer network to store, access, and share data from Internet-connected devices.
  • Other responses include: Toilet paper, security, pillow, smoke, outer space, cyberspace, mysterious network, unreliable, sadness, relaxed, overused, oh goody a hacker’s dream, storage, movies, money, memory, back-up, joy, innovation, drugs, heaven, and a place to meet.

They may not understand it, but they use it

  • 54 percent said they’ve never used cloud computing, but in reality 95 percent actually do.
  • 65 percent bank online, 63 percent shop online, 58 percent use social networking sites, 45 percent play online games, 29 percent store photos online, 22 percent store music and videos online and 19 percent use online file-sharing.

While there are a few other sort-of embarrassing explanations, 35 percent do recognize that the cloud can help consumers by lowering costs, 32 percent understand its ability to help with small business growth and 35 percent understand it boosts customer engagement for businesses.

Nevertheless, respondents still note three concerns when it comes to using the cloud: cost (34 percent), security concerns (32 percent), and privacy concerns (31 percent).

“The most important takeaway from this survey is that the cloud is viewed favorably by the majority of Americans, and when people learn more about the cloud they understand it can vastly improve the balance between their work and personal lives,” DeCarlis said.

Source: Forbes