Experiences and practicalities of SaaS and Cloud Computing from an ardent supporter and user.
The Cloud has moved on ... catch up!
When I first started writing and commenting on the cloud, the main focus was that here was a groundbreaking technology that, apart from other things, would add value to Accountants and the services they would be able to offer their clients. Those who were early adopters would, figuratively, sieze the high ground and gain the business advantage that would naturally ensue.
I gave numerous examples of how adopting Cloud systems such as E-conomic had helped to win new business and was providing a quantifiable advantage in the way business was done and services delivered. I explained how startups could benefit from Cloud adoption due to the low set up costs and how new international business could be gained and managed. I clarified, hopefully, the mis-conceptions regarding security and how Cloud is, in fact, more secure than most business configurations are currently.
Two years on, how much has changed?
Well, we are certainly past the early adopters stages in the technology adoption lifecycle:
...and are well into the early majority peak. And for those who have not yet got on board, they will continue to lag behind and eventually become part of the late majority or the laggards. Will they miss out on business opportunities....most certainly. Will they be able to catch up ... possibly...eventually. But as with most innovative technologies the goal posts have moved somewhat. I am convinced that in order to stay well ahead of the game, accountants are now going to have to change the way that cloud services are offerred.
Why do I say this?
Well it is interesting to see how the the cloud providers have positioned themselves in the market place. Although there are numerous providers, the ones that appear to have gained most traction have, possibly by natural selection, have gained ground in various sections of the business world. Kashflow, for example, is doing well with the sole trader, one man business operation. Xero has got the smaller business sector well covered and E-conomic has established itself in the medium to larger business sector as well as the franchise market.
How are Accountants to adapt to this. Well one of the advantages of Cloud as I have repeatedly stated is that the costs of adoption are low ... pay as you go is a very cost efficient concept.
So how is this for an idea...
Accountants should set up a separate Cloud team with three or four (or more as required) staff who are dedicated to working with Cloud technologies. They should become expert in a number of the main offerings - not just one - so that when new businesses, who are already Cloud users, come to them , they will be able to service them in a truly encompassing manner. It is an innovative approach... but to the brave, the rewards.