Is cloud accounting the way of the future?
March 23, 2014

Cloud computing has become one of the biggest buzz topics in the modern business world. Many have lauded the cloud as one of the more transformative technological innovations in recent memory. An increasing number of companies are shifting their mission-critical data and applications to the cloud as a means of increasing efficiency, accessibility and cost savings.

What the cloud means for accountants
Cloud technology has major implications for firms' accounting teams. Cohen & Company recently pointed out that companies often spend excessive amounts of money to provide the accounting resources needed to facilitate financial tasks. The cost-benefits of cloud accounting mitigate this issue. The cloud streamlines bill payments, invoice creations and other accounting processes, allowing businesses to reallocate staff members and realize substantial monetary savings.

Additionally, some third-party cloud accounting vendors offer to perform bookkeeping and CFO-type activities. This can be especially advantageous for smaller firms that lack a sizable accounting staff. The cloud enables a small team of accountants to handle tasks effectively, which could lead to improved data accuracy and, consequently, better business decisions.

It seems that more finance executives are realizing that cloud accounting is not a passing fad. A recently published study from Oracle, Accenture and Longitude Research surveyed 1,250 CFOs, line business executives and senior finance executives, finding that 28 percent have already leveraged the cloud for their budgeting, forecasting and planning needs. Another 34 percent indicated that they intend to embrace cloud computing within the next year.

The end of paper-based accounting?
As more executives shift accounting processes to the cloud, paper-based functions appear likely to fade to near obsolescence in the coming years. The study showed that 30 percent of respondents still rely on manual accounting processes. However, mobile apps and Web-based systems are gaining prominence, with 50 percent and 53 percent of executives using these technologies, respectively. Survey respondents noted that the cloud offers them the potential to improve analytics and business intelligence. 

"Empowered by data insights and collaborative new ways of working, modern finance organizations are no longer content to focus on containing costs and instead are looking at new ways to deliver insight and value to the rest of the business," said Karen dela Torre, vice president of Oracle.

The rise of cloud computing will clearly have a significant impact on the future of accounting. Many business leaders, particularly those running startups, are committed to increasing operational efficiency while cutting costs. Few technological options can meet their needs as well as the cloud.

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