Our survey tells us that 60% of the 77% of accountants who are not using cloud systems today will probably do so within the next two to three years. We are rapidly approaching a point where the use of cloud software to perform accounting services is ubiquitous – that’s a big shift in a few years. ” – CEO of Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific, Russell Evans

We live in the age on Network Intelligence, thanks to the Internet. From its early days of sharing information globally, the internet is today a global computing system in which global talent can collaborate on virtualized workflows. This is the digital age where we are welcoming the first generation of digital natives – our children who take to this reality quite naturally, when many of us adults have moved in as digital immigrants. The Accounting profession could very well be on a burning platform and strongly persuaded to consider digitization and virtualization. Here are five reasons why the inertia is significant for some.

  1. Lack of Awareness and a lack of time: There is enough work to keep everyone busy at present. There is so much noise about that need to change but how much is believable? Is it really worth the time?
  2. Why tinker with an already working system? My sales team reports that a frequent response when they present the value proposition of virtual teams is “I have a system that works and am not looking to change it” (Read more about Virtual Teams)
  3. Nervous about Security: A physical environment for infrastructure and teams is definitely reassuring and gives a greater sense of security. Mike Chisholm, CEO of CCH Collaborative Solutions says “Five or six years ago, when cloud systems were first coming onto the market, security was definitely the overriding concern. But that concern has gradually been pushed down the line as people realise cloud systems can be very secure, and in many ways are more secure than existing systems based on office servers.”
  4. No real benefits: The argument is that there is really no cost advantage in the new digital and virtual model. However, most people recognize that the biggest advantage of cloud technology is that it allows access from anywhere. What is overlooked often are the next steps of digitization that allows for workflows to be designed in a manner that facilitates virtual engagement. It is precisely here that significant opportunities for cost reduction occurs.
  5. Potential disruptions: The fear is of downtime and level of trust that can be placed on virtual teams. It is true that trust is a critical element in the networked world. The cloud and social media have ushered in an open market for uniquely qualified minds. What will make it work though is shared core values such as integrity and transparency.

Let me end with a quote from Rob Nixon, founder and CEO of Proactive Accountants Network “Accountants who do not embrace the benefits of cloud technology for SME’s should see the new technology as a threat to their core business. The facts are that cloud based technology can and does reduce the time needed on compliance services. This drives competition and price pressure for compliance services. However, with real time data the Accountant can be more relevant by offering planning, monitoring and other advisory services. It’s a win win if the Accountant uses the data to add value. If they do not then they will lose business” (source: CCH Research Report April 2013).