Accountants to increase cloud investment: study

Australian accountants have increased use of cloud applications and expect to spend more on the cloud in the future, according to a report by CCH.

CCH, subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer and accounting software provider, commissioned independent researcher capioIT to conduct the survey. Two months ago, the researchers did 300 interviews with small to mid-sized accounting and tax firms in Australia and 200 interview with SMEs, as well as 12 in-depth interviews with each group. The researchers also looked at data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

More than two-thirds of accountants (69 per cent) surveyed use a cloud-based accounting software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform with clients, the study found.

Looking more broadly at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), the study found that 27 per cent of SMEs used cloud-based accounting services and 60 per cent have not yet tried the cloud. The remaining 13 per cent evaluated the cloud but haven’t made yet made the move.

SME accounting firms in Australia on average use 1.9 cloud accounting apps in their practice, including Xero and MYOB. Also, 59 per cent of accounts that have adopted the cloud use two or more cloud apps, it said.

In addition, 96.1 per cent of these current cloud users said they expected to increase their spending on cloud computing.

The age of the accountant made a difference for cloud adoption, the study found. The average age of accountants using cloud apps was 36, while the average age of accountants not tapping the cloud was 40.

About 75 per cent of accountants under 35 have adopted cloud, while only 45 per cent of accountants over the age of 50 have embraced the technology.

Whether respondents used SaaS apps or not, most voiced positive opinions about cloud computing. Users of cloud computing rated the impact of cloud on the accounting profession as 4 out of 5, while non-users rated it 3.5.

More than a third of cloud users and 40 per cent of non-cloud users considered financial reporting and taxation to be the accounting task most affected by the cloud.

The top two key drivers for cloud investment were security, flagged by 44.4 per cent of respondents, and functionality, which was highlighted by 42.6 per cent.

“We’re well past this thought that cloud is hype,” said Daniel Wyner, head of strategy at Wolters Kluwer. “It’s reality now.”

Wolters Kluwer CEO Russel Evans added, “We see a situation within a reasonably short space of time where an accountant in the firm will be expected to support a multitude of different SME accounting applications.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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