For years, conversations around the benefits that the cloud brings to business have centred on innovation and agility, with a focus on how organisations could become and remain more competitive. With the massive changes the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, though, companies have started having different conversations, and are now looking at how the cloud can add value to specific areas within the business.
Finance, for example, has traditionally been slower to move to the cloud than departments like marketing and sales. This is partly because of a mistaken belief that governance is easier to achieve if all applications used by the finance team are hosted on-premises, and partly because legacy applications are deeply embedded in the day-to-day running of the finance function.
With the move to remote work and online collaboration we have seen over the past two years, CFOs are now ideally positioned to start using the cloud to help their teams work better, faster, and smarter. Here are a few reasons CFOs can’t afford to ignore the cloud anymore:
Whether a finance team is using a cloud-based ERP solution or financial management software deployed using a Software-as-a-Service model, total cost of ownership (TCO) is shifted from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, which helps reduce risk and uncertainty.
This is because organisations can avoid costly upfront investment of on-premises systems and only pay for what they need. They do not need to pay hefty licence fees and invest in hardware, but rather pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud vendor, who will also be responsible for managing, maintaining and supporting the all systems needed to keep the solution running optimally, including cyber security.
Not only does the cloud minimise infrastructure and licencing costs, it reduces the size of the IT team required to run the system. As a result, CFOs can better align the cost of IT with their organisations’ growth and free up cash to invest in other parts of the business.
Cloud-based systems are fast and easy to deploy, and most importantly, can scale according to business demands. These features allow businesses to be more flexible and agile than they ever could be using on-premises solutions, ensuring increased time to value because finance teams can manage their applications, which means they can deliver valuable insights more easily. It also provides better support for business processes.
The cloud also offers finance teams new ways of working. Using powerful tools and technology and applying broader skills to deliver strategic objectives, finance organisations can increase efficiency, drive decision-making, and support the company’s growth strategy while improving time to market. The fact that the cloud enables remote working is further driving operations to be more agile.
Data privacy, security, and governance are easily achieved through the tools and technologies, as well as the skills and expertise, offered by cloud providers. Financial governance and compliance are usually met with a deep sigh and, in some cases, dread. Compliance takes up an increasing amount of admin time, and trying to stay on top of the growing pile of new regulations and updates can seem like a never-ending ordeal.
Cloud providers have the systems, structures, and processes in place to efficiently identify, manage, and take action to meet relevant laws, policies and regulations, helping finance teams avoid financial penalties. Similarly, cloud solutions built be reputable providers are designed with built-in security, ensuring they can mitigate risks and avoid threats.
Put simply, the cloud ensures peace of mind. It helps finance teams plan and meet legislation and compliance requirements in the right way, from the right perspectives, according to the right guidelines, while helping to defend against cyber attacks.
In light of these factors, it’s no wonder that so many finance leaders are starting to look at how the cloud can benefit them. The recent Protiviti annual Finance Trends Survey revealed that 72% of CFOs and VPs of finance ranked cloud-based applications as a top priority to address over the next 12 months. The cloud is also supporting the finance function in becoming fully remote over time, with a Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders revealing that 74% will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-pandemic.
Providing flexibility, speed, accuracy and efficiency, the cloud’s value lies not in the technology itself but in the operational changes it enables. The biggest impact of the cloud is the ability to accelerate the rate of innovation for the business, ensuring competitive advantage and helping finance teams stay ahead of both business and customer demands.