February 27, 2020

The Cloud is Now Standard: Is Your CPA Firm Lagging Behind?

The mystery surrounding cloud computing and hosting has dissolved. Moving from legacy, hardware-based, in-house IT infrastructure to a cloud accounting firm has become a standard best practice among leading CPA firms, large, small and everywhere in between. 

Today, the question for successful CPA firms is not should we migrate to the cloud; rather, it is how can we improve our cloud infrastructure to increase productivity, enhance data sharing and better protect data from cyber threats. The question is not whether investing in cloud hosting will offer strong an accounting firm strong return on investment; instead, leading CPA firms across the globe are pondering increased investments in artificial intelligence, vertical cloud setups, and multi-cloud IT ecosystems.

All this is to say the accounting industry, which had been slow to adopt cloud computing platforms, is rapidly moving beyond basic cloud setups to more advanced and sophisticated tech solutions and accounting software ecosystems that strengthen company performance. 

Where does your CPA firm stand when it comes to the cloud? 

Is your IT infrastructure still in-house and reliant on overworked IT staff to keep your data secure and your software updated? Has your leadership team explored the cloud and hiring a cloud hosting partner, yet it has been hesitant to pull the trigger because of analysis paralysis? Is your team concerned about migrating legacy systems over to the cloud and the amount of work and disruption that might generate?

The reality is that it’s never been easier to migrate to the cloud and the security threat level to your CPA firm and its customers has never been higher.

It’s time. Not convinced? Here are some quick facts about the benefits of cloud computing and hosting to consider. With the cloud, you get:

Comprehensive, Always-On Enterprise-Level Security

Accountants are trusted with extremely sensitive company data, from salaries and annual taxes to everything in-between. Protecting this data beyond basic measures is a common challenge for companies, but the cloud offers a comprehensive solution to financial and operational roadblocks. 

For example, Cetrom offers three layers of security. It begins with physical security, which includes armed guards, biometrics, pre-approved clearance, restricted access and other measures for our two geographically dispersed cloud data centers.

Next is logical security, which includes enterprise-level firewalls, multilayered virus and spam protection, intrusion prevention, daily backups, encryption, two-factor authentication for sign-on access, user-defined permissions, and an on-site server backup.

Finally, we invest in methodological security or the “human factor.” This means confirming that every manual process is approved by multiple cleared users and following strict industry best security practices to block hacking.

Cetrom’s tier-3 level engineers can provide your CPA firm with 24/7/365 monitoring that your single IT person or even a small IT team cannot provide reliably. Add this to leading-edge AI cybersecurity systems and your CPA firm will be about as safe as it can possibly be from cyberattack.

Stronger Data Security Measures Using Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In order for CPA firms to keep their valuable client and company data secure, automation and AI are a must to mitigate risk. New technology is now available that will enable CPA firms to automate security measures and integrate a more behavioral, always-on approach to keeping data secure. 

Cetrom has recognized the tremendous value of AI-based security measures and has recently invested in multiple, leading AI security platforms. Partnering with a cloud service provider with deep data security expertise and current experience leveraging AI, machine learning and automation can literally be a company-saving decision.

  • AI is a valuable tool for thwarting cyberattacks, be they malware, ransomware or a solo hacker. It’s an established fact that human monitoring of any given IT network is doomed to failure. 
  • Earlier Breach Detection. AI’s always-on, always-scanning nature not only can reduce vulnerabilities, it also can increase attack response times by allowing your IT team to focus on response rather than everything all at once, including detection. In that way, AI enhances your cybersecurity program both in detection and response. 
  • Email Scanning. Having automated, AI-led email monitoring is really the only effective approach to mitigating the biggest cybersecurity risk of all: your staff.

AI is better than antivirus software. Antivirus tools are always lagging behind the pace of existing malware threats. AI can detect anomalies and unusual program behaviors as they happen, so there is no gap for malware or hackers to exploit between signature detection and distribution. 

Increased Mobility and More Secure Remote Work Environments

Few accountants are still glued to their chairs with old-school calculators in hand for eight hours. The world of technology is moving fast, and your numbers are moving even faster. That’s why the cloud is a great solution, because it offers speedy, secure mobility. 

The cloud helps your productivity and ensures data safety outside the office. Its remote access gives you accessibility year-round, every day, at all hours. All you need is a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or desktop computer and the internet. 

A study by Stanford University recently revealed a 13% increase in productivity for telecommuters when compared to their in-office compatriots. In another study by Gallup, workers that telecommuted three to four days a week felt 33% more engaged than their work-in-office counterparts.

Nicholas Bloom, the author of a well-known research project on telecommuting, had this to say about a test case rendered at Ctrip, a travel website, where workers were able to opt into working from home for nine months: “The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away. Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment. Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did — meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office — way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.”

What’s more, telecommuting protects business continuity and workflow by enabling staff to work should the office become unavailable. Snowstorms and other minor weather-related issues that prevent the office from opening cease, in many instances, to disrupt operations and client services. 

Telecommuting is a great tool for not only keeping your staff safe, but it also reduces downtime and workflow disruptions.

Stronger IT Return On Investment (ROI)

Aside from the ease of working on secure data wherever you please, the cloud offers unrivaled cost-effectiveness. Other accounting security programs cost above the industry standard, whereas the cloud solution is an effective way to do the same job within your budgetary requirements. 

When arguing for cloud/IT upgrades with your CPA firm’s decision-makers, the price will always be an issue. That’s just reality. However, costs should never be presented in a void; being able to deftly argue and persuade C-suite budget guardians with cost-benefit data and concrete results are key. Presenting clear benefits and positive outcomes will soften the price issue, letting the default, programmed “no” transform into a “yes” that’s justified. Your goal is to make it easy for your CPA leadership to say “yes.”

The cloud eliminates large in-office hardware investments, maintenance costs, Microsoft licensing fees, and more. It also rids your company of downtime costs by extending your information technology staff, staying constantly updated, and proactively monitoring your data.

For a more detailed cost-benefit analysis of moving to the cloud, watch our video here.

Stronger Integration and Easier Add-On Capacity 

Many people ask, “Will my accounting application work with the cloud?” 

The answer is: most likely. Many cloud solutions providers offer application hosting services that cover a variety of programs, including Adobe, Microsoft, Sage 50, Thomson Reuters, Win, UltraTax and more. This ultimate flexibility means that you can research which solutions provider works best for your existing application, budget, and future goals. You’re not limited to who you can partner with, because the cloud gives you options. 

It’s best to rely on the cloud to manage the applications that help run your business finances. The cloud offers enterprise-level security and trust as an extension of your IT team. As the cloud works with most existing accounting applications, you’re sure to find a solutions provider that works for you. 

This long-term solution gives you the ability to access your data from anywhere at any time, and it’s cost-effective for your company’s bottom line. 

Improved Customer Experience and Reduced Risk

Migrating to the cloud just makes sense on so many levels. 

Employees become more productive with easier access to data, greater collaboration opportunities, and the ability to work from anywhere securely. 

A more productive, more satisfied team will better navigate the stresses of tax season and will more consistently deliver an even better customer experience to your clients.

The risk of data breaches and cyberattacks will be reduced significantly, making it less likely that your CPA firm will endure a catastrophic breach that could drastically disrupt business, destroy customer trust, and do irreparable damage to your CPA firm’s brand. 

And the financials just make sense. While there will be some upfront investment and prep work to do, investing in the cloud and partnering with a cloud hosting and services partner is far more practical and cost-effective over the long haul.

It’s time to get off the fence and adopt the cloud. Cetrom can help you make a smart decision, ensure a smooth, painless migration, and get you reaping the benefits of the cloud in short order. 

What are you waiting for? Reach out to us today. 

CONTACT US TODAY

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