Cofficient Director, Paul Grant, on Cloud Computing
Earlier this month, Chartered Accountant and Cofficient Director Paul Grant was interviewed by CA magazine for their cloud computing feature.
Here is the full interview.
CA: Can you give us examples of how you use cloud computing to work with your clients? What are the main benefits and returns on investment you see?
Cloud has transformed the relationship and service with our clients. We are able to collaborate more effectively as we can share and discuss business information on line, real time. This has driven higher frequency of contact with our clients which results in being more greatly involved in the business and consequentially being engaged even more of our client’s business initiatives. Cloud has enabled and more embedded relationship with our clients.
CA: Do SME/home-office clients even need accountants any more as keeping accounts up to date should be easier? Or does cloud software mean accountants can target new clients who previously might not have been able to afford a professional adviser?
Cloud has enabled business owners to foster a much more efficient relationship with their professional advisors including their accountants – not least as business information can shared and discussed online real time generally from any device or location. This is key as the frequency and depth of required advice appears to also have increased with clients looking for more commercial support or advice. Specifically new cloud based technologies are given clients greater visibility of what’s going on in their operations, for instance profitability by customer, product or sector. We see the need for support for clients increasing to help support analysis, interpretation and decision making from these insights.
CA: Are accountancy firms making use of the flexibility that cloud-based working entails, in terms of mobility, getting staff out on the road to see clients, or “back office” staff increasingly working from home?
Cloud based solutions lend themselves incredibly well to service based organisations. And certainly the proliferation in certain sectors like consultancy, IT and media is very high. The accountancy and legal professions have been somewhat slower in exploiting the opportunity which is curious.
CA: In what other ways are cloud and mobile working changing the accountancy profession and what will the impact be inn the next 5-10 years? Will cloud link to other technology apart from mobile for example?
Cloud based financial applications are now giving businesses access to capability that was hitherto too expensive or complex to use. Arguably the compliance side of accounting is being somewhat commoditised and clients cannot differentiate one advisor form another simply other than by cost. We have seen success with firms who have been able to provide a differentiated service in terms of providing broader commercial support enabled through the foundation of a cloud based solution. We believe that this trend will continue as business solutions become increasingly more integrated and the administrative side of processing and compliance drops and the increase of data and information increases.