With the fast-paced advancements in technology, businesses are constantly adapting to keep up with the changing landscape. Among buzzwords like digital transformation, cloud computing, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, the accounting industry is no longer an exception to riding the wave of accelerated change and innovation.
In this article, we explain the fundamentals of cloud transformation and explore how it is revolutionizing the field of accounting, bringing with it a host of benefits.
What is cloud transformation?
Cloud transformation refers to the process of adopting cloud-based technologies and solutions to modernize and streamline business practices and operations. This transformation involves shifting from traditional on-premises software and hardware to cloud-based software and services that are hosted and managed on the cloud.
It has become a prominent catalyst for change in the accounting and financial services sector, as with many other industries, aiming to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. However, this transformative process necessitates a holistic shift in business operations and thus requires a thorough understanding of its potential challenges.
The challenges: what to expect
Cloud transformation in the realm of accounting, also like many other industries, is not a one-and-done initiative, but rather a continuous process of automation that involves re-evaluating and optimizing various aspects of the overall architecture, business operations model, security standpoint, and costs.
When contemplating a cloud transformation journey, it's important to acknowledge that there are numerous challenges that can be classified into two categories:
Overall business shift
- Cloud transformation is beyond mere technology adoption. According to Feng Liu, BDO Lixar’s Head of Cloud Engineering, “It is rather a mindset shift of how you run your business on the cloud and how you leverage the capabilities at hand and be able to scale up and down, in and out.” Businesses alike, including accountants and finance teams, will need to adapt to new ways of managing financial data in the cloud, including understanding the cost structure and pricing models.
- Establishing the foundation, which includes technical skillsets and resources, is imperative for embarking on such a journey. Developing expertise in cloud competency is a gradual process that may necessitate years of dedicated talent allocation.
- Security concerns and compliance with regulations around data privacy and protection also become critical when moving financial data to the cloud, and questions around encryption management arise.
- For existing solutions, the limitations of legacy applications may not be compatible with cloud environments or can pose challenges.
- Application integration issues may occur when integrating cloud-based financial systems with existing on-premises or third-party applications; how can they be managed while securing the connection?
- The time and investment required to migrate financial processes and data to the cloud can be substantial, impacting business continuity during the transition period.
- The cost of cloud services, including subscription fees and data migration charges, must be carefully managed to avoid unexpected expenses and ensure cost-effectiveness.
The benefits: Long-term gain
The accounting industry has evolved significantly in recent years, and one of the key drivers of this transformation is the adoption of cloud technology. Cloud transformation, which involves migrating accounting processes and data to cloud-based platforms, has become a game-changer for the accounting industry, providing numerous benefits that are reshaping how accounting firms and finance departments operate.
“When you have cloud computing power at your fingertips, the cost of trying new ideas and responding to market change becomes much faster, while the innovation barrier becomes lower,” adds Liu.
Cloud transformation offers numerous benefits to organizations which can also be categorized into two groups: