Most accountants are aware of the potential benefits of using the cloud. In fact, the most ardent advocates are accounting software providers. Just like clouds in the physical world, the technology cloud is dynamic and evolving. This constant change begs the question, how can your accounting firm benefit from it?

1. A reputation indicator

Today, consumers expect access to their business processes and data from anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection. With greater access come higher expectations, and accountants cannot sit in a client's boardroom without instant access to all relevant information and unable to perform ad hoc calculations and projections.

After big companies began to migrate their infrastructure to the cloud, overly cautious organizations that once chose private computer networks began recognizing the benefits of this technology. Today, small and midsized enterprises are as well. The migration is not limited to data storage, and with cloud computing, some are deploying business processes. On the other side, accounting firms can expect even more demanding clients who want immediate access to their balance sheets and tax-related documents. Accountants can take these expectations as an opportunity to increase their level of service and go after audiences that value immediate access to data and services.

2. Making the cloud more efficient

In theory, moving business processes and IT infrastructure to the cloud saves you time, money and resources. Very few organizations, however, have the luxury of creating a cloud solution from scratch. Instead, it evolves organically and typically includes multiple services and vendors. You might run multiple accounting tools, for example, in addition to a CRM, a cloud-based e-mail client, a cloud-based project management tool, etc. The increasing complexity of cloud solutions presents a new risk for organizations – the loss of time, financial, and resource savings. In some situations, it may end up costing more to operate a cloud solution than to use on-premises tools.

The cloud industry is moving quickly to address these problems through the creation of new tools. Understanding how these tools can benefit your business will help you get a maximum return on your cloud investment while also staying ahead of your competition. They include cloud analytics tools to monitor your consumption of cloud resources. These tools help you control costs and ensure you only pay for what you really need. For example, are you paying for full-scale seven-day-a-week access when the vast majority of your business is conducted during business hours Monday through Friday? Analytics tools give you the information you need to see exactly how your team is using the cloud and where additional efficiency savings can be made.

Another service you might begin to see more often (if you don’t use it already), are cloud management services. Providers of this service are specifically concerned with ensuring the various aspects of your IT (both cloud and on-premises) are properly configured, integrated, and managed. This includes integration management, incident management, technical support, disaster recovery, asset management and more.

3. Hybrid models will become easier to implement

Cloud evangelists used to promote moving all business processes to the cloud. Thankfully, this is now heard a lot less than before. This is because most people recognize that hybrid cloud models (where some business processes happen in the cloud while others are kept on-premises) are a more realistic option in the modern world of business. In fact, you probably operate a hybrid cloud model right now. The change you are likely to see over the coming year or so is the increasing availability of tools to make the implementation and management of hybrid models easier to achieve.

The three changes outlined in this article demonstrate how cloud technology is maturing. That is positive news for all businesses and presents exciting opportunities for those who understand the changes and embrace them.

Tom Andrulis

Tom Andrulis is the president of Intelligent Technical Solutions, which helps businesses in Nevada and California manage their networks, cloud services, phone systems, and Internet connections.