Flexibility, cost, ease of use, and speedy deployment have lured many small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) to cloud computing. In fact, cloud deployments are becoming the norm in order to support collaboration, better data management, and new product development.
But businesses have been slower to move financials to the cloud. Many growing companies still use the same on-premises financials applications they did five or 10 years ago.
In today’s business climate, where change is the only constant, it’s time for a reality check. Is your business ready to capitalize on change? And will your current financials solution help you to shift gears, or will it get in the way?
For years, many businesses looked at technology as nothing more than a way to support what they were already doing. They used financial software to manage cash flow and to automate recurring tasks such as payroll checking, billing, and expense management.
But in an age where any business can be “Amazoned,” supporting and automating current business practices is just the first step to ensure your business will survive and thrive. Customers expect better, faster, more personalized service. Employees want the tools they need to get their work done anytime, anywhere, and on the device of their choice.
Businesses must be ready and able to innovate—or they risk getting side-swiped by more agile competitors. Most SMBs understand this. About three-quarters agree that technology is reshaping their industries and businesses—and that survival and growth depends on their ability to use technology effectively (Figure 1). With major disruptions happening in every industry, SMBs know they need to use technology to help them increase employee productivity, improve decision-making, personalize customer experience—and more.
Businesses need a flexible technology foundation to facilitate change—one that helps them remove obstacles and capitalize on change. But increasingly, businesses are hitting a wall as they try to upgrade older, on-premises financials systems to accommodate new requirements.
Cloud-based financials solutions have offered economies of scale and scalability to SMBs for years. Cloud vendors have built the infrastructure and expertise to provision and support thousands or tens of thousands of customers—providing them with speed, cost, and flexibility advantages over on-premises software.
Now, cloud financials systems are also becoming the on-ramp that businesses need for innovation and growth. Because financials applications are the primary system of record for most companies, the right solution can serve as the technology backbone for your business.
Today’s top cloud financials solutions are built with an open architecture that makes it easier to develop and connect new applications and functionality—for human resources, logistics, sales, FP&A and more—and unify information across them to provide a clear, consistent view of the business.
This same open framework also enables cloud vendors to bake new technologies—such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), IoT, blockchain and more—right into their solutions.
Instead of having to learn about, select and integrate these new capabilities on your own, you gain immediate access to them as they become available—through the financials solution you already use every day.
For instance, some cloud-based financials solution vendors are embedding AI and ML technologies into their financials solutions to spot and flag anomalies, predict customer buying behavior and identify potential issues. They’re also adding NLP into the mix so users can both input and request information from the system in more intuitive, contextual ways.
Businesses can no longer afford to think that what works for the business today will work tomorrow. You need to make sure your financials solution can provide you with the visibility and insights you need to get ahead of the curve instead of falling behind.
The benefits of moving to a cloud-based financials solution now extend well beyond cost reduction, flexibility, and speedy deployments. Today, these solutions can help you more identify gaps, problems and opportunities for the business and to plan and execute on the changes necessary to sustain and grow your business.