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With the on-premise systems, the analysis of business performance requires data to be extracted from finance systems and moved to business intelligence applications. Because of the time and effort involved in this process, business decisions are often made on data that is no longer current. This complex approach has cost businesses a lot of time and money over the years and heavy reliance on their IT departments for the integration.
As businesses grow, the on-premise, finance system approach can also result in fragmentation of applications and data across the globe. This is particularly common for companies that grow through acquisitions. Regions and business units may have their own systems and may be on different versions or even different brands of software. Regions may pursue their own approach to financial reporting using spreadsheets and separate analytics applications. Currency, regulatory compliance, and accounting standards may be managed independently within those regions. This fragmented approach makes it impossible to deliver a complete and timely picture as to what is happening across the company. With the cloud-based systems these issues, especially as they relate to time, are eliminated, as the Cloud is always current.
The up-to-date feature of cloud-based systems is one of the most significant yet most often overlooked benefit of the Cloud. Cloud systems are more flexible, allowing organisations to easily adapt to change, especially when laws and regulations are constantly changing both locally and globally. If new legislation is passed, a multi-tenant cloud application can deliver, within a relatively short period of time, updates to all affected customers that support compliance of the new law. Technology is constantly evolving, creating new and better user experiences with modern user interfaces and ways to connect to business systems from an ever-shifting landscape of mobile devices. The Cloud’s distribution model makes it easier for
customers to quickly embrace new innovations with the user in mind.
The Cloud gives the assurance that company data is secure. A reputable cloud vendor is in the business of security. Not just any security, but a strong, ongoing focus on rock-solid protection. This requires multiple layers of authentication for accessing areas where servers are kept and two-factor biometric authentication. It entails camera surveillance at entry points, constant security personnel, and close monitoring and logging of any suspicious access-attempt activity. From the technology standpoint, it requires cloud system architectures that are specifically designed to protect customer data, including database encryption.
These security efforts require huge investments by cloud providers and are critical to their success and survival. Businesses that choose to keep their financial management applications on servers located on their own premises may not be able to – or may not have prioritized, such high levels of security. Cloud providers that are serious and transparent about their practices for protecting data will provide international certifications, such as ISO 27001, which is the international standard describing best practice for an Information Security Management System.
The total cost of ownership of cloud applications versus on-premise software is superior, with regard to both deployment and ongoing support. The Cloud’s benefits reverberate beyond not spending money on hardware and software licenses, onsite software implementation, and ongoing maintenance and upgrades. The Cloud’s update cycle is easier and faster, resulting in not just lower cost of training, but higher adoption of innovation. This provides companies with a competitive advantage against peers who are caught in the slow-paced legacy model. Management can also shift IT resources away from time and talent spent on maintaining systems, to focus on projects that generate profits for their businesses.