Over the last few years the adoption of cloud based software has grown at rapid proportions to the point where it is now widely accepted instead of being seen as experimental. Despite the widespread acceptance the mention of the word “cloud” still leaves many people scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss is about. With a lack of understanding comes fear of the unknown, which is a natural reaction. In this blog post I am going to demystify the cloud and alleviate a lot of the common concerns people have.
LETS CUT TO THE CHASE
Ok so what exactly is the cloud? No it is not the white fluffy thing you see when you look up in the sky! In a nutshell cloud computing refers to the ability to access your data and software over the Internet without using the hard drive on your computer or a server. All you need is a device with an Internet connection, which means the cloud allows you to access your data on your phone and tablet. An example of cloud software is Internet banking.
WHAT FREAKS PEOPLE OUT ABOUT THE CLOUD?
By far the most common question I get asked when talking about using cloud accounting software is “Will my data be safe?” I can confidently answer that with a resounding yes. Look at it this way – do you ever ask if Internet banking is safe these days? The reality is that the major cloud software vendors have the same level of data security as the banks.
Lets think about it from another angle. If you were relying on the hard drive of your laptop to store your data what would happen if you were to lose your computer? I would imagine it would be pretty catastrophic. If you were using cloud software losing your computer would not be a major disaster as all data is backed up in the cloud and can sync to your other devices. So you would be up and running again in no time! Or if your data were stored on the server in your office – what would happen if the building burnt down? In reality your data is actually safer in the cloud than on your computer or server. When you use the cloud computer crashes or corrupted files on USB sticks do not affect you.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING THE CLOUD?
There are a number of other advantages to be had other than your data being much safer.
When you only require an Internet connection to access your data you are no longer reliant on the desktop computer in your office to do your work. Being able to work with a tablet, phone or laptop means you can work from anywhere at anytime including the beach or your local café.
There are also massive cost advantages to be had. Most cloud software providers charge a small monthly fee to access it that includes automatic system upgrades. There is none of the huge capital outlay of setting up servers or maintaining the system that requires expensive IT consultants. Many cloud solutions are relatively simple to use, which reduces the reliance on IT experts.
Another advantage is the ease of collaboration that is offered. With staff being able to access files from any device and many programs allowing unlimited users it means that staff can collaborate on the same document in real time. There is no longer the necessity of emailing documents back and forth, which is a massive timesaver in itself. An example of this is Xero accounting software allowing financial advisors to log into a clients financial system without the client needing to email the file or provide a USB stick.
There is no doubt that the cloud is here to stay and will continue to grow rapidly over the next few years to the point where it will eventually surpass traditional hardware and servers. The question to be asked here is how are you going to manage these rapid changes in technology. Will you embrace them and the advantages they offer or will you cling desperately to what you know and are comfortable with?