Ten years ago, the accounting profession was just starting to experience the advent of cloud-based technologies. The term “hosted” was still fairly new, but gaining in popularity. Back then the goal was to simply make operations less painful for firm staff and clients. The best way to do this was to move to a hosted environment. However, this made for a much tougher sell because the move to hosted was based solely on convenience. And convenience alone made it difficult to justify the increase in fees.
Fast forward a decade, and we live in a much different world. Client demands span beyond basic online convenience. They expect 24/7 access to data from any device and collaborative platforms. Throw in heightened concerns around security and the exodus from email and other less-than-secure delivery mechanisms, and a move to the cloud makes even more sense.
The fact is that today’s small business owners are among the most technologically advanced. With the average age of entrepreneurs ranging from late-30’s to 40, it’s a no brainer that this pool of progressive-thinkers wants on-demand access to data, greater flexibility and the ability to work when and how they like.
Understanding the direction the world is moving, why are so many firms (and their clients) still behind the times in terms of technology? Why do so many still allow clients to dictate the delivery of services (non-cloud)? The answers haven’t changed much from 10 years ago. Concerns around price, security and a basic fear of change are the leading reasons. And while a certain level of resistance to change is normal, businesses who continue to resist the cloud simply aren’t sustainable over the long term.
First and foremost, technology is the way of the future. That’s the simple fact. There are thousands of apps available today that support highly efficient business operations. The cloud is inherently flexible, meaning you can scale up solutions or scale down ones that don’t work with your model. Much simpler than old desktop software. The move to the cloud opens up a vibrant ecosystem of apps ready to help firms and their clients work smarter.
The cloud also represents the safest environment for data exchange and storage. With teams of data security specialists focusing on protecting your data, the cloud is one of the most secure ways to store information. The days of storing data in-house are long over, as are the days of emailing secure documents. Progressive business owners want to access data in the cloud not only for 24/7 convenience, but because it is the most secure mechanism.
And finally, price as a barrier is no longer a good excuse compared to the value cloud technologies offer. Top-tier servers; the ability to integrate with multiple, high-value systems; and advances in processing speed all add up to immense value that overshadow complaints centered on price.
The accounting profession, overall, is still relatively divided when it comes to the cloud. However, more and more firms are moving their clients to the cloud in small, but progressive batches.
In general, firm leaders understand the benefits to their clients such as better mobility, the ease of collaboration, and heightened security—vital elements when building a successful, sustainable business. With this base understanding, the prediction is that firms will continue to pick up the pace in terms of moving clients up and over to the cloud. The fact is, the time is now.
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