Cloud computing has finally reached the tipping point. Past worries about reliability and security are starting to subside as cloud vendors prove their trustworthiness, and with large companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple going all-in on cloud products, entire businesses can now be run online.
Surely the clearest sign that the worm has turned is that one of the world’s oldest professions, accountancy, is starting to move to the cloud. Business are now realising that their trusty old accountant firms may now well be redundant, especially with a lot of the cloud accounting programmes now being offered for free. Given the push by external software developers, traditional accountants are beginning to use cloud software to manage their clients’ books. Accounting software behemoth Sage has even made a move into cloud software – albeit with a few false starts.
Security is a priority for such systems – they are, after all, handling financial data. Most are built using the same technology as online banking, and feature two-stage authentication for added peace of mind. It’s actually much more secure to hold financial data online, as not only is it backed up even if your computer crashes, but it is safe from fire and burglaries.
The collision of modern cloud software and the stagnated world of accounting is also producing some interesting hybrid models. Companies such as Crunch are offering an “all under one roof” approach, developing online accounting software for use by their clients, together with highly-automated backend systems that take over most of the “grunt work” of accountancy.
Due to the massively reduced overheads of cloud software some companies are even able to provide their accounting software for free, with premium services for those willing to pay.
This free accounting software is having a huge impact on traditional accountants. Services they would previous charge hundreds of pounds for are now totally automated, and smart help systems with video tutorials can replace charged-by-the-minute phone calls. These upstarts are forcing traditional accountants – most of whom haven’t changed their working habits since the advent of desktop bookkeeping software – to rethink their business models.
Without money-spinning hourly billing and upsell services to rely on, these traditional accountants and having to concentrate on outstanding customer service and value for money to stay in the game, and this – along with this exciting new breed of online accounting software – can only be good news for the end user.
About the Author: Editor of the online magazine Freelance Advisor, Jon is based in Brighton and contributes regularly to the http://www.crunch.co.uk blog.
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