The accounting profession’s response to the cloud is overwhelmingly positive, particularly given how relatively new this technology shift is. It’s deeply disruptive – in the current, positive use of the word – because its impact goes beyond that of simple functionality and process automation. Cloud is fundamentally changing the way we operate. The accounting profession is converting from a transaction based, behind the scenes operation, to a partner service based model.
To better identify where the opportunities are, we conducted a nationwide survey* of accountants and their SME clients – “Can the accounting profession keep up with clients and the cloud”. Tax planning, business advisory, business planning forecasting and cash flow were the areas nominated by respondents as being the most positively impacted by real time access to their clients’ accurate, current financial information.
You are not alone
Cloud, automation and remote access are driving the transformation of all the traditional professions – medicine, engineering and architecture – not just accounting. Let’s take a quick look at the big picture achievements of other sectors as they create new opportunities and improve customer service:
Medical – Accessible health care for all members of society
- Ability to operate and diagnose remotely
- Assisting with compliance issues
- Patients have affordable access to highly qualified medical expertise irrespective of location
Engineers – Efficiency, cost effectiveness, distribution
- Systemising manufacturing processes
- Location independent, efficient staff access and better resource utilisation
- Reducing infrastructure, manpower and other fixed costs
- Ability to operate remotely, allowing for offshore management and manufacturing
Architects – Reducing IT Infrastructure costs
- Major cost savings on software and storage solutions
- Efficient integration between platforms and service providers
Standing still is not an option
Yes, the uptake of cloud is a bit pull and a bit push. Whichever way, it’s happening and standing still isn’t an option.
Like mid-tier accountancy practices, engineers and architects are being squeezed by the big name firms, with their broad internal skillset. The larger players are leveraging their early adoption of high end technologies and global reach to now package affordable services for tier 2 and 3 customers.
While these competitive pressures are very real, in the near term, cloud will absolutely level the playing field. Size is irrelevant. Every business has access to the same sophisticated technology platforms. You can look like a big player, or any other way you like, to attract any market you wish to target.
Your reach is no longer bound by geography – you don’t have to be within cooee for face to face meetings. Cloud enables you to create nationwide industry specialisations or virtual units within your business to target particular services such as SMSF.
Remote, anytime access is transforming client service and resource allocation. The efficiency levels being driven by cloud are astounding. You can see into your client files at a time that suits you. Unproductive time spent in meetings or on phone calls is being peeled away as both clients and service providers can be proactive and better prepared. Diagnostics – be it in medical or accounting practice – is delivering peace of mind. Action is being taken in a timely way, rather than it being too late to take remedial action against disease or compliance obligations.
Confidentiality and security are very understandable topics of concern when discussing cloud – for all the professions. But they are reducing as we all gain confidence in the technologies and the proliferation of on-shore data centres overcomes data location issues. If cloud is now deemed ok for personal medical files – that are being stored by the same cloud providers with the same safeguards – then it’s probably ok to protect financial files.
The cost and risks of storage for all the professions – massive architectural drawings, x-rays and financial returns – is being overcome by cloud.
Cloud is creating a reach for the stars moment. It’s up to you now.