“Will bad weather lead to downtime in cloud services?” “Can I see my data if I look up into the skies?” Sales folks reported all kinds of interesting questions from prospects when selling cloud services, even just a couple of years ago.

Suffice to say, most people’s knowledge of cloud services has increased considerably, at both the consumer and business levels. However, as much as cloud services are now an IT spending priority for most businesses, common misconceptions still persist about the benefits of cloud services, especially among small- and medium-sized businesses in Asia Pacific. Previously, this was a difficult issue to tackle, as we didn’t have solid facts about the concerns our partners were facing with their prospects. Now, thanks to a recent study, we not only understand the problems, we can see how ably Microsoft’s Office 365 answers them. And with Office 365’s rapid adoption in Asia Pacific, our partners are well positioned to educate and excite prospects about the advantages of cloud services.
What are the top myths that act as a barrier to cloud adoption?
To find out, we conducted an online survey with 2,017 Microsoft Partners in 11 Asia Pacific countries in October 2013. In this survey, partners ranked the misconceptions most commonly raised by their customers and prospects about the cloud and shared their outlook on the growth of their cloud business:
Here are the top five cloud misconceptions our partners report among organizations in Asia Pacific:
  1. Lack of privacy
  2. Lack of security
  3. Concern that the technology is not yet mature enough for business environments
  4. The inability to be productive when offline
  5. Lack of ownership of the software
Other misconceptions centered around the cost and reliability of the service, the lack of value-add compared to on premise versions, concerns that it’s too complicated, and the lack of a clear return on investment.
What solutions do we offer that can put worries to rest?
Microsoft’s Office 365 is designed to address many of these concerns right from the beginning. For example, in contrast to other cloud solutions, Office 365 takes full advantage of the cloud while still enabling customers to be productive off-line in certain scenarios. It also enables new device and social scenarios and simplifies IT control and management. Additionally, Office 365 is supported by industry leading security and privacy policies and a financially backed 99.9% uptime guarantee.
By providing this encouraging information in detail at the Office 365 Trust Center website, we assuage concerns and generate excitement about the possibilities of cloud services.
Additional insights from Asia Pacific respondents include:
  • 46% frequently (daily or at least once a week) encounter decision makers who have relatively little understanding of cloud services
  • More than half of the respondents have at least 10% of their business focused on cloud services
  • The majority agreed that Gen-Y decision makers are more knowledgeable of cloud benefits than other business decision makers in general
  • The top three benefits of adopting Office 365 by customers in Asia Pacific are:
    • Enabled employee mobility
    • Cost savings on IT infrastructure
    • Agility and flexibility in business operations
Clearly, cloud service users are out there and increasing; by leveraging the Office 365 Trust Center, we can connect the confident with the cautious to accelerate adoption.
How can Office 365 help combat misconceptions?
Educating consumers is key. Roger Teo, Business Director of Singapore Microsoft partner Sapientia Holdings, explained to me that several factors tend to change potential customers’ minds and encourage them to invest in the cloud. “We assure them that Microsoft is here to stay. Customers don’t want a cloud service provider which may discontinue their services in the next year. Microsoft’s ‘all in’ effort won’t stop in the next year. There is a roadmap to integrate more services in the future. After customers observe the market, their competitors or subsidiaries which have adopted cloud solutions, they come back and agree that what we are saying is true,” he said.
Those of us at Microsoft are now working to debunk each myth with more education in the market, via access to resources such as the Office 365 Trust Center website where many of these concerns are addressed. More details of the 11 myths can be found in this interactive infographic. A 2-D version of the infographic is shown below.
Cloud Myths Debunked infographic 
IDC* predicts that spending on public cloud services in Asia Pacific (excl. Japan) will grow from US$9.0B in 2013 to US$19.5B in 2016. Of this, about 50% is attributed to software-as-a-service solutions like Office 365.
Despite misconceptions, Office 365 continues to build cloud momentum in Asia Pacific
Microsoft’s market-leading Office 365 is the fastest-growing business in Microsoft’s history. In Asia Pacific, Office 365 grew three times faster than the overall public cloud services market, fuelled by trends such as bring-your-own-device, an increasing need to work anywhere, and collaboration through enterprise social tools.
Today, we have over 13,500 partners across Asia Pacific offering cloud services to companies of all sizes, including the Red Cross in Asia Pacific; Coles, Link Healthcare and V8 Supercars in Australia; MedcoEnergi in Indonesia; MPH Group and KPJ Healthcare in Malaysia; Auckland Transport and Icebreaker from New Zealand; Coca Cola FEMSA in the Philippines, as well as Kah Motor, SATS, and Tiger Airways in Singapore.
By leveraging the trust prospects already have in Office 365, our partners can address concerns those prospects may still have about cloud services.
About the survey
Conducted in October 2013, the online survey received 2,017 responses from Microsoft IT channel partners from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. More details of the cloud myths and facts for each country can be found here.
*Worldwide Cloud Blackbook, 4Q12 Update