While most New Zealand businesses are familiar with the concept of cloud computing very few are actually using the technology, shows a nationwide survey.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor, a national survey of 1000 small and medium-sized companies conducted by Colmar Brunton, looked at awareness and use of the online technology often known as 'the cloud'.

It found only 14 per cent were using cloud services for business, while 78 per cent said they did not use it, and 8 per cent did not know.

Despite strong promotion from cloud technology vendors, kiwi businesses were yet to take to the cloud in great numbers, said MYOB general manager Julian Smith.


"The cloud is very much the industry buzzword at the moment - you can't browse a business or technology website or publication at the moment without reading about it.

"Yet despite the technology industry's best efforts to teach others about the concept of cloud computing, our research shows a disconnect between SME cloud usage and their understanding of it."

Cloud computing allowed a company to outsource services, such as data storage and software, to an off-site or even offshore provider. Rather than using software that was installed on an individual PC, workers accessed applications via the internet.

This means companies needed to pay only for the software their staff actually used and software creators could directly upgrade or tweak their products.

The survey found a lack of knowledge and security concerns were preventing business operators from embracing cloud computing.

Of those surveyed, 31 per cent felt they did not know enough about the cloud, a quarter were not tech-savvy enough to feel confident to even start looking at the issue, and the same amount were unsure of the safety in storing their data in servers overseas.

Smith said it was surprising that almost four out of five business owners were not using the cloud.

"It's likely that many business operators are in fact leveraging some form of cloud technology without realising it," he said.


He believed those selling cloud computing needed to focus on promoting the productivity and financial benefits rather than just the technology behind it.

"With cloud solutions now ready for the mass market, our approach must be more broad and business-focused.

"Our clients and partners, many of whom already use cloud solutions, often tell me their main concern is how technology will help them be more competitive and make business life easier."

The most popular reasons for businesses using cloud computing were the ease of accessing data from any location, and the ability to have team members work remotely.

Smith said technology developments would see the cloud become "easier, faster and more efficient to adopt".

Well ahead of the 14 per cent national average, the most cloud-connected region in New Zealand was the Manawatu-Wanganui region with 22 per cent of businesses using the service.

Christchurch had 17 per cent of businesses using the cloud, while Wellington and Auckland had 14 per cent each.