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  • Andrew Colley
    Smarter Writer

    Andrew Colley has written about technology, business and media for over a decade - nine years on a national newspaper

    Andrew Colley
    Smarter Writer

    Andrew Colley has written about technology, business and media for over a decade - nine years on a national newspaper

    Take-up of cloud accounting services among Australian SMEs is poised to skyrocket, a new business survey has revealed.

    The conclusions follow the increasing enthusiasm for the cloud among major accountancy firms. Impressed by the service’s ability to offer real-time visibility of customers and financials with low management costs, accountants are now keen to see their clients get on board.

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    The findings, from the survey, Can the accounting profession ‘keep up’ with clients and the cloud? conducted by professional information services specialist Wolters Kluwer CCH, revealed that 96 per cent of SMEs were very likely or quite likely to increase their investment in cloud-based accounting during the next 12 months.

    “This is a massive validation of cloud, and highlights that the benefits of cloud computing for the accounting profession are significant. Of course one cannot predict future behaviour, but these results do provide significant confidence that the uptake is one directional, and not a fleeting trend under any definition,” CCH wrote in its report.

    The survey found that adoption of the cloud among SMEs had risen since last year to reach 27 per cent while 60 per cent have not attempted to shift. 

    Accountants have their heads in the cloud 

    Wolters Kluwer CCH Asia Pacific head of strategy Daniel Wyner said that it appeared that accountants had started to take a stronger role in driving take-up of cloud accounting among SMEs.

    “If you look at the accounting firm side, 69 per cent are using cloud services with their clients so they definitely seem to be taking this up and saying to clients ‘this is a great way for me to help you’,” says Daniel.

    The survey overwhelmingly revealed that cloud was perceived to be having a positive effect on businesses.

    Surprisingly, the survey revealed that some of the most frequently touted benefits of cloud computing, such as the ability to digitise invoicing and share data in real-time, were not main drivers for cloud adoption among SMEs.

    Sensitive information is cloud safe

    The survey identified security as the main driver with 44.4 per cent of SMEs reporting it as their key reason for investing in cloud accounting. Functionality was the next most highly ranked reason for adopting cloud accounting at 42.6 per cent.

    Over 50 per cent of respondents perceived cloud accounting systems to be more secure than their current system.

    “The feedback that we were receiving is that the real benefit isn’t in the cloud as such, the benefit was improved technology and software,” says Daniel.

    Such benefits included allowing business owners to centralise data from multiple devices and achieve a unified view of their financial position. It’s also helping to lower overheads for new businesses and making existing ones more productive, he said.

    “When I set up to be a mechanic or a baker or run a café, I don’t necessarily want to think about all that book keeping work. A lot of that work is being streamlined by technology”.

    “These results do provide significant confidence that uptake of the cloud is one directional, and not a fleeting trend.”
    Wolters Kluwer CCH survey

    The benefits of cloud accounting

    1. Information on demand
      Cloud-based software is consumed on demand from an online platform. It’s often compared to consuming electricity from a grid rather than running your own power plant.
    2. Cloud software is cost effective
      You don’t have the burden of investing and maintaining on-premises servers.
    3. Cloud convenience for a mobile workforce
      All business data is in a central spot and can be gathered from multiple devices. A business with field staff means they can link into the backend in real-time. For example, invoicing can be done and dispatched on the road making your business more agile and mobile.
    4. Everything under one roof offers clarity
      All your data in a central place updating in real-time means you get much more visibility on what’s happening within your business.
    5. This cloud has a silver lining
      Placing your data in the cloud means that your data can’t be destroyed or stolen by conventional means. A fire won’t mean the loss of paper-based records; it’s all backed up in a central spot that you can access from practically anywhere.

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