For years, finance leaders have faced the cloud with trepidation, concerned about data security, the reliability of cloud infrastructure, the availability of applications and the costs of implementing cloud-based technologies.
However, the weather for cloud is changing.
By next year, cloud services in China is expected to reach just over $100 billion, driven by China-based start-ups, MNCs and government agencies.
According to Alibaba Cloud, cloud sales is expected to grow from 5% to 20% of the Chinese IT market by 2020.
China’s rapid investment towards cloud services will be a key factor for many companies who will need to ensure that their finance team is able to adapt to change.
The potential benefits of the cloud for finance functions
Safer data handling is one security benefit of the cloud, which provides an additional layer of protection above data stored on laptops or USB drives that can easily be stolen or lost. Cloud-based computing also lets businesses back up data off-site. That makes disaster recovery more manageable, as well. Other benefits of cloud computing for accounting and finance functions include:
Cost and time savings
Businesses can expand their use of cloud services without extra hardware purchases and with little or no software costs or maintenance fees. Cloud services are typically subscription-based, and companies can scale requirements up or down according to their needs. Software updates, including security updates, are automatic. (For resource-strapped fast-growing companies, these are all major pluses.)
Reduced burden on core staff and enhanced collaboration
Automating manual tasks with cloud solutions frees up employees to focus on more value-adding activities for the business, including innovation. Cloud computing also helps to simplify and speed up workflows. And it supports anywhere-anytime working and collaboration by providing companies with a continuous, mobile-ready connection that syncs data instantly wherever there’s internet access. Document control is a lot easier, too, since all files reside in one central location.
Compliance efficiencies and big data insights
There are still compliance issues to be mindful of with the cloud, but leading cloud providers and other expert consultants can help ensure your business meets relevant regulatory policies and processes.
Deciding to make the move
If your finance function is among those looking to move to, or expand your use of the cloud, engaging business systems and IT consultants for assistance with evaluating and deploying cloud-based solutions can be a valuable strategy. These experts can also help you answer important questions you should consider before transitioning to the cloud, such as:
- Why do we want to move to the cloud?
- What data and which processes would we put in the cloud?
- What benefits do we hope to realize from moving to the cloud?
- How will the cloud change the way our accounting and finance team works?
- How should we manage the transition to cloud-based processes?
- Which vendors should we work with?
Business systems and IT consultants can also help you select a cloud model (for example, private, public or hybrid) that would be the most appropriate for your business needs.
In addition, these experts can assist you and your company’s technology leadership in determining what impact the move to the cloud would have on your organisation’s IT department. For example, would the company need to hire professionals with cloud computing skills, either on a project basis or full time?
The issue of IT talent is one that businesses eyeing the cloud should think about sooner than later. If you’re unsure whether cloud-based technologies are right for your organisation, exploring the option to determine what benefits your business might realise from making the transition is still worthwhile, especially to ensure your finance function is ready to adopt cloud based services.