Was 2011 the Year of the Cloud?

Towards the end of last year I stated that 2011 would be the Year of the Cloud and as we hurtle headlong into 2012 (I am convinced the Government have cancelled a few months as part of their cost cutting exercise!), I thought it worthwhile to look back and see if I have changed my view.

Whatever my conclusion, from a Cloud aspect it was certainly an eventful year.

Personally, I have travelled half way round the world attending and speaking at various international conferences about the Cloud and Cloud accounting where the topic has been received with huge interest. I have also been invited to visit numerous accounting firms in the UK where there has been noticeably increasing interest and a genuine desire for further input on the topic of which they have become far more aware.

In the accounting market place, the big news was the acquisition of Twinfield by Wolters Kluwer, the parent company of CCH. The market reacted to this was great excitement – at long last an established on premise player had seen the light and was making a big commitment to the Cloud – and with Iris taking an interest in Freeagent surely others would follow. It remains to be seen – but if nothing else it has certainly increased the level of awareness and interest.

On a wider arena, Apple released its latest operating system – IOS 5 and in so many ways this has crystallised the Cloud as the way of the future. Apple have practised what so many of us have preached –  that computing should no longer be device specific but that the device, whatever it may be, should only be a tool to access information. Therefore, as now enabled by Apple, a photo taken with the Iphone will appear seamlessly on your Ipad and desktop. Music downloaded on your desktop is accessible on your Iphone and Ipad. From a more business orientated approach, reminders set up on one device will appear on all your other IOS5 enabled kit.

As has happened so many times before, Apple have made the concept their own but more importantly have brought it to the forefront of the public’s awareness – there are few people who have not now heard of the Cloud even if they might be unsure as to what it involves.

And what of the accountancy market as a whole. Always slow to react to changes in technology, they are, at long last, making themselves aware that the Cloud is something which they can no longer ignore and whilst still slow on the uptake, many more firms have started on the Cloud journey and are beginning to realise the advantages it brings. But just as they take those first few infantile steps and  the Cloud enthusiasts among us look on as proud parents watching their child walk for the first time a further major attitude shift now presents itself and is bound to trip up a few of the less adventurous.

Adoption of the Cloud and in this instance Cloud accounting is being led by the client – not being pushed by the accountant. Clients and potential clients are going to their accountants having decided to use Xero, Kashflow or E-conomic or one of the many other products now available. If the profession wants the business they are going to have to evolve in a Darwinian survival of the fittest shift to not only accept and adopt the Cloud – but be prepared to work with more than one Cloud offering so that they can accomodate the every growing amount of choice that today’s entrepreneur has available.

So – was 2011 the Year of the Cloud? Most definitely and 2012 will prove it to become the defacto operating system.