Last month, the internet turned 30. And while it can be hard to remember life before the World Wide Web, the way the internet has completely transformed businesses across the globe in three short decades is nothing short of mind-bending.
The speed of technological advancement can sometimes be overwhelming, but trying to turn back the clock to when pen and paper were king is a fool’s errand. The only feasible strategy for 21st-century organizations is to embrace the opportunities the digital age provides. And thanks to the power of the cloud, the accounting industry is uniquely positioned to benefit from technology’s never-ending march.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a brief primer: The cloud is a virtual environment hosted on one or more remote servers that can be accessed by authorized users anywhere across the globe. These servers are able to perform computational tasks, store important data, provide real-time information, and more.
Though many accounting firms have already begun adopting aspects of cloud computing over the past several years, it’s important to take a step back and look at some key ways in which this technology can continue revolutionizing the accounting industry.
Wherever You May Roam
Offices can be nice, but in 2019 there are very few business functions that can only be accomplished by having employees gather together in the same location for eight hours a day, five days a week.
This is especially true if your daily work lives in the cloud instead of on a hard drive or collection of papers. The ability to access your firm’s data anywhere means you have more freedom in where and when you work.
Collaboration with coworkers becomes a much simpler process, too. You can share data, revise documents, and analyze results together without needing to be in the same room. But just as important is the new avenue of communication the cloud opens between you and your clients.
If you grant your clients access, they can see their financial data in real-time. This eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth communication and can cut down on in-person meetings, which positions your firm as a convenient choice for current customers and future prospects (though it’s still important to provide a personal touch when the situation calls for it).
Data is the accounting industry’s lifeblood. If the information you’re working with is damaged, destroyed, stolen, or otherwise compromised, it can completely erode your clients’ trust… and maybe even your entire livelihood.
Physical data is at risk for all sorts of trouble. Documents can be misplaced. Laptops with sensitive information can be stolen. Archives can be destroyed through fires, natural disasters, or even just the erosion of time.
Storing your information in the cloud mitigates these risks by making sure digital versions of your firm’s information is always available, no matter what physical mishaps may occur.
Unfortunately, the cloud is vulnerable to a different type of storm. Cybercrime is a very real threat to businesses across the globe, and it’s important for any organization dealing in digital data to have safeguards in place.
A good cloud computing program will already have robust security features built into the software, but that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. As you’re transitioning your workflow into a virtual environment, make sure you’re taking proactive steps to protect your firm’s data and reputation from cyber threats.
Perhaps the biggest benefit cloud computing provides is granting firms the ability to invest resources and manpower into ideas and projects they otherwise wouldn’t have time for.
Automation can be a scary word. The idea of machines replacing human labor can have a dark side, but good leaders realize that automation can be a positive for everyone. Instead of downsizing overhead and jobs, employees who used to be tied up in busywork and tedium can now use their capabilities for new initiatives that can make a firm more competitive and successful.
These employees will also likely have better job satisfaction, because they’ll be applying their talents to work that’s more fulfilling and productive. By outsourcing time-consuming computational tasks to the cloud, accountants can focus their efforts on meaningful improvements to internal processes, client relationships, prospect scouting, and much more.
Keeping Your Head in the Clouds
Embracing change can be uncomfortable, but fortune favors the bold.
Cloud computing is still a relatively new technology, but there’s no reason to think it isn’t here to stay. Clinging to the past isn’t going to do you any favors. Instead, seize the opportunities the cloud provides, and be a leader in pushing the accounting industry into a whole new era.
This article is for informational purposes only.