A FUNctional Take On “The Cloud and Accounting Profession”.
Cloud has clouded the accounting profession over the last few years. Many accountants are “on the cloud” already. Everyone else seems to have heard of the cloud. And the BIG question on their minds is:
(Whether) To be on the cloud; or not to be ?
Interacting with hundreds of CPAs over the last many months, I figured out two distinct “hurdles” CPAs face in deciding whether to go on the cloud.
The first “hurdle” seems to be the cost. Accountants who were used to buying “software license” for a one time cost plus the fees for upgrades seem to be struggling to come to terms with “subscription” fees that increase the total cost of “ownership”. This is especially so as many firms have already invested in their own IT resources that they planned based on installation of software on their own server. Now, the feelings are that those resources will be underutilized or wasted by moving to cloud AND the subscription fees structure will further add to the costs. But for startup firms, cloud reduces initial capital requirement as IT overhead is not required, thus significantly lowering the “entry barrier”.
The second hurdle seems to be the (rare, real and perceived) instances when “access” to cloud softwares may not be available (praying that it does not happen in the tax season) due to a variety of possibilities such as internet connection issues, subscription fees not paid in time; will “my” data be easily and fully available if I switch providers; and so on.
CPAs: To be on the cloud or not to be? What do you think? If not, what are you worried about?
Or do you think the real question is not WHETHER, but:
WHEN to be on the cloud?
What Cloud Does – to the Mind and The Matter?
One of the major changes that has emerged in recent years is the “social change” i.e. with the leaps of progress in internet and mobile devices technologies people have come to expect instant information availability when and where they want it. “Cloud” is just a name given to this change.
It was impossible to instantly give clients their accounting information when data resided in CPA firms’ office. It required “interactions” by phone or email to “seek and deliver” this data. Cloud brings in huge efficiency in this whole process of information access. It is now “Real Time” and hence the client expectations are also “Real Time”. People “think” in those terms now. It is now a natural reaction for people to get frustrated when a “download” does not happen in few seconds or when a chat message is not instantly replied!
Cloud also makes it possible to “integrate and automate” data movement across systems – which means not only it is all faster, but because the “manual handling” of data is reduced, it is also more accurate.
There are many benefits of moving to Cloud but the core principle behind any disruption and innovation is to deliver better (and many a times, new) value to people.
When asked, “What is THE one thing you want to do more in your practice?“, a young CPA told me this:
Intelligently Interpret Information Insights
Cloud can help you find more time and more focus to do so. It can also help accountants to more deeply leverage their core accounting expertise.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts.
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