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Are you ready to stick your head into the clouds?

Cloud computing has already changed the world around us, and technology is totally uninhibited by geography.

But with all this innovation in our personal lives, how is it affecting us in business? Is it sustainable? And more importantly is cloud commerce a safe and secure option for small businesses?

Cloud commerce is software available via the internet with data stored at a remote location. Usually to access these services you pay a monthly subscription which will allow you a certain amount of space and abilities. Cloud commerce in terms of up-front costs is cheaper than paying for a program, and is available to you at any place or any time. At home and realised you forgot to approve payroll? Easy!

Most accounting software is available on smart phones and devices, and describe themselves as ‘accounting software on the go’. Although all software has minimum computer requirements, it’s just that, a minimum. So unless you’re rocking a Commodore 64, your computer systems should be able to handle it. However it can be frustrating if you live in an area with slow internet access. So if you find you are repeatedly slamming your head onto your keyboard, it may be a good idea to check out some better internet options before doing some permanent damage.

Practically all of the online accounting systems are able to be integrated with other software and systems, and have pre-fill abilities, which frees up some more of your valuable time. Most even have add-ins that are like apps for your accounting software.

With minimalistic styles and colour schemes; the lifestyle promoted is that of modern technology, easy, available, and chic – you could go as far as saying accounting is becoming more ‘exciting’.

They also allow for real time reporting and information, so you can see exactly how you’re travelling this month, week, day, hour, minute. This allows you to be able to see how much a client owes you at the exact moment you walk through the door to visit them.

Cloud computing has really gone from strength to strength, and with that has come improved processes and speeds, along with greater security. This would be the biggest concern in relation to cloud computing in general, the best way to mitigate this is to do your homework and choose a reputable company. Do your research into the location of the data (as many are located offshore in countries with more relaxed privacy laws) and if there have been any major issues in the past. The big programs are known for their ‘bank level’ security, and being remote, you don’t have to worry about backing up data and storing it somewhere else in case the office burns down!

Of course, one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is the green aspect. Companies love showing off their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) achievements, and what’s a better one than environmentally friendly. Of course it’s a good thing to be doing, but it doesn’t hurt to bolster your own CSR standings. Cloud commerce is greener than traditional methods because there is no production, packaging, or freight. This can also allow some staff members work from home more often, which not only helps to lower carbon emissions, but keeps your staff happy in a flexible workplace.

If you’re beginning to realise that cloud commerce is the best way of moving forward in your business, why not have a read of our whitepaper: ‘11 things to consider before taking your business up into the clouds.’

About the Author

Sue Hirst is the head of CFO On-Call, a team of Financial and Business Advisors who work with open-minded people committed to business growth and achieving success.

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