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The Cloud in finance: it works

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30th Nov 2010
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Why are accountants the laggards when it comes to Cloud computing, K2 analyst Kate Hanaghan asked the finance panellists at the Business Cloud Summit on Tuesday.

The answers ranged across several themes that will be common to AccountingWEB members: an inherent conservatism; reluctance to let core company data go out on to the internet; and what i-nexus chief operating officer Rex Harrison called “a culture of recommendation”.

“In terms of the systems that our professional advisers said we should use, we were being guided away from Cloud solutions,” he said. “We had to tread our own path. They may have wanted us to use those applications, but they made things more complex for us.”

Richard Anning, head of the ICAEW’s IT Faculty, echoed a comment that had been raised early in the day at the summit: “Is accounting at the front of the queue for the problems we’re trying to solve?”

AccountingWEB member and Cloud consultant Richard Messik expanded on the role security plays in the accountants’ mindset. “Security is a very big issue when you talk to accountancy professionals, but it’s a perception rather than fact. Along with a reticence to adopt new technology, there’s a tendency to look for negatives rather than positives.

“Most people latch on to security because it’s an obvious point. But when you talk to firms and ask mid-size firms about their data security and back-up processes, you’re probably faced with a bit of a blank look. The point could be made that security is actually far better in a Cloud environment than on-premise.”

As Harrison and Gordon Montgomery of The OnBoard Partnership partnership expanded on their experiences with Cloud applications, it became that web-based applications could deliver a lot of benefits for businesses.

“I’d think twice about using a Cloud accounting system if I was a one-site business with no inputters or users on any other site,” said Montgomery. “The systems I need are distributive, so it’s a business decision first.”

Cloud accounting applications for the smaller enterprise were now as good as small enterprise systems, he added. “I think that reluctance is beginning to fall away. The business argument for using the Cloud environment has gone along with the cost savings.”

In spite of the reluctance of its adviser, i-nexus implemented NetSuite six years ago to cater for reporting requirements that would have otherwise demanded more people to produce. “It brings huge business benefit and it does save money as well. We are probably 2-3 full time people ahead,” Harrison said.

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Richard Sergeant
By Richard Sergeant
01st Dec 2010 08:42

A great session and perhaps more positive than even this account

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By david_terrar
01st Dec 2010 10:17

Richard's quote plus forward thinking accountants

John,

I think Richard Messik actually said "it's a perception rather than fact". 

It was good to hear Ricahrd M's view that it's too easy for the typical accountant to set up a practice just like a half dozen down the road with little differentiation, missing the marketing opportunities there are for thinking differently and using new technology to provide a much better service to business.  Dennis Howlett just posted about a practice at the other end of the scale.  They are viewing accountancy as an overall businss service  in the first instance.  For them the compliance piece is a commodity you need expertise for, but it's just a component of the overall sevice they market and provide to a particular business sector.  That's where the profession needs to head, and Cloud solutions can help take them in that direction. 

David Terrar

www.d2c.org.uk and www.twinfield.co.uk

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
01st Dec 2010 18:31

Thanks for the input, David

And your superior hearing. "Perception" makes more sense and has been corrected in the text.

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
01st Dec 2010 18:31

Thanks for the input, David

And your superior hearing. "Perception" makes more sense than "exception" and has been corrected in the text.

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