David Terrar and I share a passionate belief in the Cloud and all it represents, together with a frustration as to how it is explained to a broadly sceptical professional world. As a result we joined together to form Cloud Advocates – our mission to explain the Cloud in straightforward, jargon free terminology and show how it will benefit and add value to both business and individuals. Our launch event was a seminar held at the offices of Mimecast in London, entitled Cloud Accounting for the 21st Century – Debunking the Myths.
It was a well attended event and we had great speakers including Denis Howlett, who delivered his presentation via Skype from his home in Spain (the sound of his disembodied voice booming out to a packed room was somehow strangely suitable for Denis!) – the Cloud in action!; John Paterson from Really Simple Systems explaining Cloud based CRM, Mark Lee who gave an entertaining presentation on the value or otherwise of social media for accountants and Steve Thorns who explained Hosted Desktop.
We also had a number of panel sessions and the best one was a session that consisted of Philip Woodgate for Goodman Jones, Sean Price – IBox Security Ltd and Paul Smalley of Paper Mountain Solutions. These three are respectively Twinfield, Xero and E-conomic users and they gave an excellent explanation of why they went into the Cloud and chose the solutions that they did. There was good interaction with the audience and I think was an excellent example of how the Cloud can work in practice and the benefits derived therefrom.
Inevitably a later session got embroiled in the perennial issue of Cloud security – wouldn’t it be great if a discussion about the Cloud could avoid that topic. However, it was a good opportunity to clarify the issues concerning Cloud security (there aren’t any!) even though I did upset one member of the audience when I said that most people didn’t really want to know what was under the bonnet – they just wanted to know that it works. He thought my answer unacceptable but the point I was trying to make (perhaps a little too flippantly) was that once there was acceptance that Cloud was probably considerably more secure than most on premise solutions, most users were not really that caught up with this.
In fact Phil Wainewright , another of our panellists, made the excellent and pertinent point that true internet security began at the desk top – passwords other than P4ssw0rd for example or worse, post it notes with logon detail stuck on the monitor!
It was a good day and a sign of how well received it was, was that everyone stayed for the afternoon session after lunch and also put up with the fact that a whole room of techno geeks hadn’t quite worked out how to get the air conditioning to work!
One point raised by Kevin McCallum of Freeagent – the online providers represented at the seminar probably accounted for something like 250,000 + users world wide -Cloud hasn’t even scratched the surface yet. A lot more needs to be done!