By Megan V.
Cloud computing services were predicted by 2015 to be operated by more than 240 million business customers through mobile devices and to generate $5.2 billion in revenue. Netflix and Amazon Web Services remain as one of the most popular cloud computing services on the market. But this technology is slowly making its way to other sectors, such as in financial accounting. For reasons such as increased efficiency, productivity, and maintaining competitive advantage, many companies in the financial sector are working towards integrating mobile cloud computing in its future operations.
The overall consensus of cloud computing has been favorable, with 90% of surveyed CPAS agreeing that the delivery of digital business processes to its clients will “become a key differentiator among accounting firms in the next five years” and understanding that the accounting profession needs analytic and forward-looking services to adapt to rapidly changing business environment. Recently, QuickBooks has been the top leader in marketshare for write-up and bookkeeping software firms for all seven size categories tracked by the MAP survey. Services like QuickBooks aid in tax preparation, time and billing, scheduling, and work flow and document management. The majority of firms operate paperlessly, however it has its constraints as the records are repetitively scanned and archived as digital files and time is wasted through having to go back and search through Word documents to move forward in the verification process. (Drew)
Cloud computing offers a solution that allows for faster interaction with financial accounting data. Mobile cloud computing in particular provides an infrastructure that “allows both data storage and processing outside [a] mobile device.” This form of technology moves computing power and data stored away from phones on a cloud, which provides computing mobile applications to a broader range of mobile users. A study conducted by CIO Council Romania including 107 large companies showed that 61% of companies in Romania are already using services based on cloud computing and 39% of companies will be forced to implement cloud services in order to maintain their competitive advantage. (Tudoran)
According to a survey, advantages of storing and processing a company’s financial and accounting documents on the cloud include: (1) saving time and money, (2) increased productivity – with 65% of respondents saying that this technology allows for faster interaction with financial accounting data by removing periodical trips to take primary accounting documents from customers, and (3) improved future training – with 65% of respondents saying that maintenance of professional knowledge and skill is required to ensure competent professional service is provided to the employer/client. Disadvantages mentioned included: (1) lack of performance – 70% of respondents said that the performance was lower than that of a PC/laptop, (2) poor data connection – 70% of respondents said that impossibility of using WiFi while traveling was a drawback, and (3) limitations of mobile devices – 78% of respondents said that small screen size of mobile device, difficulty in entering data, and limited battery lifetime put a strain in using the cloud computing on a mobile device. (Drew)
Companies that currently provide accounting services via the cloud are e.contabilitate.ro, San Software, Wizrom, and AuditFile. AuditFile, one of the first cloud-based solutions for CPA firms, provides more efficient audit process management by automating the uploading the trial balance to generating financial statements to identifying identify fraud. (Russell) Though the technology has only been recently introduced in 2007, feats in cloud computing remain to be seen and its implementation in companies will continue to spread in order for improved efficiency and to maintain their competitive advantage.
Drew, J. (2015). Accounting firms moving slowly toward cloud. Journal of Accountancy, 219(3), 44-46,8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1660937315?accountid=10357
Russell, K. (n.d.). AuditFile Raises $3M To Offer Task Management For Accountants. Retrieved November 25, 2015, from http://techcrunch.com/2014/08/13/auditfile-raises-3m-to-offer-task-management-for-accountants/
Tudoran, Laura Elena, and Bogdan Stefan Ionescu. “THE USE OF ACCOUNTING APPS VIA MOBILE CLOUD COMPUTING IN ROMANIA.” Annales Universitatis Apulensis : Series Oeconomica 16.1 (2014): 294-303. ProQuest. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.