By: Rachel Krug
Director – Product Marketing
Right Networks

If you ask an accounting professional, it would seem there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about job growth and an upward trend in the near-term economy. We polled CPA firms, accounting professionals, and small-businesses in our first ever Right Networks Cloud Impact Survey and found that over 73 percent of our small-business customers felt encouraged about the prospects for new business, with 63 percent of small-business respondents planning to add jobs in the next six months.

Our 18 question Cloud Impact survey polled respondents on the scale of their business, overall feel for the current climate of the economy, and the potential for business and job growth.

Trending Up

Over half (51 percent) of small-businesses indicated they had reason to feel “cautiously optimistic” about their business while another 48 answered with even more enthusiasm, choosing “confident/bullish” as a response, indicating a high business confidence.

Why are small-businesses feeling so good? It might be that they’re feeling good about the economy overall. When asked to rate their confidence level in the economy compared to six months earlier, 61 percent responded that they were at least “moderately confident” while another 32 respondents indicated they were “very confident” in the prospects of the national economy.

Cloud-Enabling for Growth

But, as firm believers in the advantages of cloud-enabling your accounting solution, we like to think that CPA firms, accounting professionals, and small-businesses are starting to really leverage the cloud to build stronger businesses.

What gave us this idea? The poll also sampled CPA firms and accounting professionals for their opinions on whether technology has transformed their businesses and if technology is making it possible to better serve clients and seek new business.

In the customer sampling, 75 percent of the respondents that identified as CPA firms or accounting professionals using cloud storage and application technology indicated they are “very confident” about the future of accounting and their respective role in the industry. Another 21 percent said they were “moderately confident” about their future.

Tech = Freedom?

Clients increasingly expect to be serviced in real time, which is not always possible in traditional accounting models. Cloud-enabling your accounting software and legacy applications allows for anywhere, anytime access to business-critical information and applications. And our customers appreciate that a lot.

Over 63 percent of CPA firms and accounting professionals said they were motivated to upgrade technology to either automate administrative tasks and increase productivity and efficiency or motivated to upgrade in order to institute more flexible and responsive solutions for clients who increasingly expect an “always available” approach.

That freedom seems to go both ways. When asked to assess the top benefits of cloud-hosted solutions on a 1-to-10 scale, accounting firm managers ranked access to customer data “anywhere, anytime” as the leading benefit, averaging a 6.87 out of 10. That was followed closely by “anytime, anywhere” access to the solution-based software itself, which rated a 5.79. Forty-four respondents also rated highly (5.57) the ability to easily share data with applications and people who need it.

So while customers can use the cloud to access their own critical data from anywhere, accountants can use that ability to access their clients from anywhere.

Shining a Light On What’s Coming

Freedom and flexibility is great – especially when it allows professionals to work effectively, anywhere. But accounting professionals seem to be making the most of the time they’re no longer spending chasing down client files or maintaining IT systems on their own.

The Cloud Impact survey also indicated a significant trend among CPA firms and accounting professionals toward increased strategic and consultative roles for clients, with cloud-based accounting solutions allowing for more financial and business guidance to customers. 52 percent of CPA firms and accounting professionals that responded to the survey believe such a trend will continue in the foreseeable future.

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