Cloud reality check: Where we are in 2016

Cloud reality check
iStock_cloud check__David Parsons
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Cloud accounting has become a daily part of professional life. But has it all been plain sailing? And where is the trend leading us? This article sets the scene for June’s cloud reality check on AccountingWEB.

According to AccountingWEB’s archive of data, it’s been just over a decade since the first members started picking up on online accounting applications such as KashFlow and FreeAgent.

As we have reported extensively since then, around half our members now use cloud accounting tools of some kind in their daily working lives. The trend has been hailed as the most significant technological transition since the introduction of the PC in the early 1980s. NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson went even further in a recent speech when he said cloud represented the “last architecture” in the evolution of computing.

But we can see that many accountants and AccountingWEB members are still reluctant to make that move and a flattening adoption rate suggests that the bandwagon may be encountering some hurdles that are holding up its progress within the profession.

For the next month, AccountingWEB will be looking more closely at those issues on both sides of the Atlantic in what we are calling a cloud reality check.

Over the summer, we intend to present a clearer picture of cloud use within the profession. We’ll be talking to cloud accounting users, suppliers and sceptics to find out whether the tools are living up to expectations, and where any sticking points might arise.

In spite of his occasionally overblown rhetoric, Zach Nelson does make a strong case that we are heading towards an era of utility computing where processing power is available on tap via the net. To become truly universal, however, technology also needs to accommodate the whims of contrary human beings and their working habits.

Getting under the skin of the cloud phenomenon means going into finance departments and accountancy practices to find out how they are using these tools. You can play a part in this research by adding your comments and observations to our series of articles. Also keep an eye out for case studies that show how accountants are making their firms cloud-ready, and what happens to them when they do.

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About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and AccountingWEB.com.

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17th Jun 2016 11:36

We are behaving as children with a new toy. A reality check is sorely needed.
1)
In law it is claimed, not least by the Government of the USA, that information stored in the "Cloud" is the property of the owner of the physical facility on which it stored. To date Niether Microsoft, nor IBM, nor Sage, nor Digita, (as a sample) have replied to a written request for their opinion on this matter. Copyright and or data protection is a seperate issue.
The "Cloud" providers are not holding information as agents for the source, but are holding it as unencumbered owners thereof.
As with many things affecting our professional lives, 99.99995% of the time it is an academic question. The Sh*t happens when you are the 0.00005%. This is why we buy insurance.
I have been been in the profession, clerk to old duffer, for a long time. I consider myself at risk as a 0.00005%-er. So, I will not mess with the "Cloud" until this fundamental question is answered. I repeat if a "Cloud" provider cannot, or will not, unreservedly assure me in writing, that in law I am the owner of my information, -Caveat Emptor.
2)
The UK courts, HMRC, Benefit Agencies, et al, routinely require sight of signed and or certified paper documents.
3)
On at least three occasions since I bought my first office computer in 1979, having a hard signed copy of stuff has saved my professional career.

The moral of this story is, for accountants, the "Cloud" is an office machine, it is an amazing labour saving machine and or automated filing cabinet, but it is still only a machine. The first rules of computing learned way back in 1979 still apply:
Garbage in = Garbage out
Keep a copy.
Sh*t happens

I keep in mind a summary of the judge's observation in the case of "Elizabeth v British Gas". -At the front of every computer is two hands playing on a keyboard-.

Digital Tax System
At an excellent CPD session attended yesterday, it was quoted from a booklet published by the Financial Conduct Authority, 50% of adults are not up the the grade required of 11 year olds for maths. this impacts on understanding of financial matters.
I take an educated guess that many of my plumbers, electricians, builders, and so on are part of that 50%. As are doctors of medicine.
Yet they manage to keep themselves in bread, salt, and a fair amount of wine.
AS far as I am concerned this digitilisation is based on false information, actual HMRC dishonesty, is oppressive, and a case of the civil service tail leading the head of the government dog.

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22nd Jun 2016 17:05

We found that many people found the pricing models and options difficult to fathom in the UK mid range market - the client would source a solution they liked, then needed to find separate cloud hosting to match. Often the hosted platform would not offer the levels of administrative access required to effectively run the software.

We decided to make sure we could provide both at www.cloudsis.com, allowing the user to have a platform to which they could get administrative control, coupled with a robust ready to go traditional accounting solution (Pegasus Business Cloud).

Users can then have the flexibility of a traditional robust accounts package with the flexibility of the cloud, safe in the knowledge that there are no nasty surprises during the deployment.

By making the solution simple to choose and having a simple monthly pricing plan, a lot of the fear is removed.

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