The Cloud – those who get it and those who wont

I had intended to attend the AccountingWeb Cloud Computing forum, but urgent client matters intervened and unfortunately I couldn’t make it. From all accounts it was a pretty successful day and well attended.

A lot has already been written about the fringe event where accountants sat on a panel (that’s a sobering thought for a start!) and an audience of software professionals attempted to convince them of the strengths of SaaS and Cloud Computing. David Terrar’s excellent blog provides a full report on this. Once again it seems to be another lost opportunity for getting the message across. Originally I was asked to sit on this panel, but this was then overruled because AccountingWeb wanted non-convinced accountants -and I, obviously, didn’t fit into that description.

Reading the reports of the session and also reading the comments on the AccountingWeb cloud group, I have to ask myself whether the vast majority of the accounting profession will ever be converted. Sadly, I think not. Some of the ill informed and frankly naive comments that are raised as arguments against the merits of the cloud are so heavily ingrained into the accountants psyche that it’s going to take a "Children of Israel wandering in the desert event" for it to be changed.

The options available in the accounting Saas market are huge – I believe there are now something like 40 different online accounting packages available and this number seems to be growing rapidly. As with all software products, some are better than others – some directed to small sole traders and others to the larger business entities. Regular readers of my Blogs will know my own preference so I won’t reiterate it here. There are others as well but it is up to the user to carry out their research to decide what is best for them. Most of the packages allow users to have a free trial which would help comparisons.

What would be useful would be for a session where the panel consisted of convinced accountants who could then explain to the un-initiated why they had made their choices and debunk some of the myths that are currently prevalent.

But at the end of the day, if the majority of the profession does not want to be convinced, why should I be concerned –Denis Howlett makes the excellent point that it is the client who will dictate that they want to use online systems and it is professionals like myself who will benefit.

I am currently quoting for a new assignment where the prospective client, a rapidly growing company with some ambitious plans, has specified online accounting as one of its requirements. The quote is currently in the high 5 figure range and will possibly hit 6 figures in the not too distant future. I may not win the assignment – but one thing is certain. I would never have had the opportunity to quote for it if all I had to offer was the bog standard packages that everyone else uses.

And in the long run that is what it is all about – those who get it and those who won’t. I know who my money is on.