The cloud promises big savings, but are they without risks?
Accountants are usually a conservative lot, so it is surprising there are so many willing pioneers in cloud computing.
The likely explanation is that there are probably bigger savings for the accounting industry than most others, and saving money is something accountants like to do.
Why is it cheaper? In the client-server world both the customer and the accountant need to buy accounting software. In the cloud world, only the customer pays.
Despite the benefits of cloud, the bulk of accountants is moving at a much slower pace due to a range of concerns. These were presented at a networking event called Beerstormers held in Sydney last month by Practice Paradox and CountGPS, companies which assist accounting firms in running their business.
Practice Paradox director Michael Carter showed comments by accountants on a company blog post, which I’ve collated into a list below. Carter is firmly in the pro-cloud camp.
“I firmly believe that if (accountants) want to be business advisers beyond accounting they cannot (fail) to be across the main issues for business adopting cloud technology,” he told BoxFreeIT.
All the comments below were taken from the Practice Paradox blog post, “What do you love, loathe, fear or doubt about cloud computing?”
1. Giving up control of client data
“Accountants have long been the trusted holders of the files. Cloud networking appears to take that away from them. I’m … wondering if it’s going to be a deep seated source of resistance to moving client information and transactions to the cloud.” – David Buchan
2. Reliance on an internet connection
3. Need to learn new systems
“The fact that you need an internet connection, don’t house your own data and have to learn another IT system are all challenges that my team have put to me.” – Adam Ramage
4. Data sovereignty, privacy and compliance with National Privacy Principles #9
5. Security of data from online attacks
6. Reliability and redundancy of cloud systems
“Cost savings are very compelling when it comes to the cloud however there are also grey area’s to discuss such as – security, privacy (data sovereignty) and reliability (data redundancy) to name a few.” – Jason Forbes
7. Making internal IT investment and innovation redundant
8. Reliance on third party for access to data
9. Technical challenge of online integration
“Our firm has had a long history of innovation using our existing technology. … “Putting it in the cloud” has a nasty side-effect of removing our local knowledge of how the system *actually* works. This is not to mention the technical restraints or hurdles of integrating databases and systems across the wire. … I just don’t want to have to lose all the good things that we already have or be at the mercy of a third party.” – Scott Barber