Cloud technology is one of the most significant advances in the business world in recent years. Most businesses are using it in some shape or form but in reality we are only just starting to see the full potential of this new technology.
Amanda Fisher, CEO of Connected Accountants, is not your typical accountant. She has had a passion for technology her entire life, and is at the forefront of doing business via the cloud, a term that until a few years ago meant very little to any of us.
Businesses small and big are embracing cloud-based technology for many reasons: it makes information accessible from virtually any location and any device; generally it provides automatic back up for valuable data; it allows easy access to information for members of a team; it supports workplace flexibility; and it is cost effective.
That said, we are still in the very early days of cloud technology. As businesses slowly start to trust in vital information being stored away from their own computers, new considerations are coming into play.
Fisher says that by embracing cloud, accountants are able to change their focus from helping people comply with taxation requirements to looking at business strategy and advice, something she says accountants do best.
“There has been such a change in the accounting world in the past few years, mainly with bookkeeping systems, which is proving both wonderful and challenging. Businesses that have embraced cloud-based systems for bookkeeping have incredible access to their figures on a daily basis and there is no doubt this kind of real-time access to data enables better business management."
"But for many businesses, the transition from a desktop accounting system to the cloud is a major leap of faith. Now there are many cloud based services available, and the opportunity is not only to take bookkeeping to the cloud, but pretty much every aspect of the business."
Within Connected Accountants, the internal culture and philosophy is to talk the talk and walk the walk, which means embracing cloud-based technology however they can. Specifically, they have moved the entire business information bank to a highly secure cloud, and enabled all personnel to have access to this information, from any location where they may be working. The company also uses VOIP communication systems to enable global communication, and GoToMeeting for virtual meetings.
"Today, Connected Accountants has a Sydney address, but we truly are a virtual business," says Fischer.
"We have clients all over the country and overseas, we can all work seamlessly from any location on the planet, as long as we have an internet connection, and we have incredible access to all of our company data and records at our fingertips."
Fischer says that this allows "enormous flexibility and capability" in how her business works and supports clients.
"We can employ mothers who need workplace flexibility whilst raising their children by offering them the ability to work remotely, at times to suit them," she says.
When it comes to looking ahead most people agree that technology is changing the way most of us do business. However it is also changing the way we are being supported in our businesses.
For many years accountants became focused on compliance as opposed to advice. With the rising popularity of cloud-based accounting, perhaps the tide is turning and small business owners will be having more meaningful conversations with their accountants and other advisors, talking strategy, growth and profitability, in real-time, as opposed to retrospective conversations.