By Richard Messik, Chartered Accountant and Co-founder of Cloud Advocates

For those who are regular followers of my blogs, my passion for all things cloud will be well known. It is all the more of a thrill (and yes, I know I ought to get out more) when I come across someone who obviously is as enthusiastic about the cloud as am I.

The other day my attention was drawn to a blog from Rob Nixon. He has written a piece entitled Cloud - friend or foe? and I make no apologies for quoting from it below. The points he makes, make so much sense that it should be a mantra for all things Cloud related.

I quote: "Cloud accounting – friend or foe?"

Lately there has been a lot of press and commentary (some would say hype) about cloud accounting systems. So what is reality and what is hype?

First of all some facts:

1. The cloud accounting (or the original term is SaaS – ‘Software as a Service’) has been around for a long time. The technology has been available for at least 10 years.

2. Cloud accounting is where your (or your clients') data is stored on the internet (instead of a PC or server) so they can access it easily and efficiently.

3. As of today there are approximately 3-4% of small / medium sized businesses who use an internet (cloud) based accounting system.

4. The early adopters (the cool ones) have jumped on it and enjoy the simplicity and innovative approach to it.

5. Many of the late majority users will be currently concerned about security issues. They are the same ones that were concerned about internet banking security concerns and now they probably use some form of internet banking.

6. Every single accounting software maker (who started as a CD/Server/Hard drive system) are spending bongo bucks (technical term) to get ‘cloud ready’. In fact I know (from the horse’s mouth) that one prominent supplier is spending in the vicinity of $100M to get ready.

7. Around the world there are gazillions of dollars being poured into any sort of internet based computing systems. The venture capitalists and financial markets are backing this space.

8. Cloud accounting systems will not fix every issue you have with your clients' ‘cleanliness of data’ – if they input incorrectly then you’ll get a mess like you do now. Muck in – muck out.

9. It is reported by the software vendors that at the accountants end you will have an efficiency gain of anything from 10% – 40% when your clients are using an internet based accounting systems. That means 10% – 40% less time on the same job.

10. When a client has their data on the internet it is easier to transport the data from one accounting firm or accounting software supplier to another. Click of a button.

11. Every week we are hearing of clients who have switched accounting firms because the other firm did not offer an internet based accounting system.

And the final fact:

12.This is going to happen whether you like it or not!

Now there is nothing new in any of the above but the points made cannot, in my humble opinion, be overstated or reiterated too often. For those who get it, it is just common sense... for those who don't, well wake up!
And I finish by referring to another Cloud supporter, Gary Turner who is CEO of the UK branch of Xero, the well known online accounting system. Xero have recently moved into to new offices in the UK and on Twitter Gary published this picture entitled Xero's new server room.

Follow the link....it says it all.

Richard Messik is a Chartered Accountant who specialises in Cloud Computing. He is a co founder of Cloud Advocates,an association of consultants who aim to demystify the Cloud and provide pragmatic help and advice for businesses, organizations and accounting practices. To find out more, visit http://cloudadvocates.com/

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