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Why Cloud Computing is not Pie in the Sky - news article image

Why Cloud Computing is not Pie in the Sky

15 Jan 2016

3 minute read

There has been a significant increase in the take up of cloud computing with recent reports suggesting that around 90 per cent of UK businesses would be using at least one cloud-based service by the end of 2015.

In Oxfordshire, almost two-thirds of the business owners responding to the latest Barometer survey said they believed cloudbased platforms would improve the services provided by professional advisers.

They cited many benefits, with the main ones being the ability to access information in one place, the convenience of being able to log-on anywhere and at any time, and the ability to perform tasks without the need for meetings and phone calls.

Sarah Gardener, Accounts Manager at Shaw Gibbs, said: “Compared with this time last year we are certainly seeing a shift towards cloud-based services.”

“People are working differently and want more of their business dealings to be online. I would expect to see this trend continue upwards in the next twelve months.”

Shaw Gibbs is partnered with Xero, the cloud-based platform which integrates a client’s financial accounts, updates bank feeds automatically and can be accessed any time from any computer or mobile.

“What our clients love about Xero in particular is that they can communicate with us through the platform, and don’t need to sit in traffic, nor even pick up a phone, every time they need our advice. This way of working builds efficiency into the process and frees up our time to provide other services. In fact I would say that services like Xero actually improve the personal contact I have with clients. Now I can see their business on a day to day basis rather than once a year around tax return time. This way I can be a true advisor —giving support when it’s needed and with full information of the client’s financial position.”

Oxfordshire commercial property consultancy VSL has a server-based IT system which can be accessed remotely when working in the field.

Director Richard Venables said: “Being a relatively small business, our IT needs are not huge and the majority of our storage needs are taken up by property images and plans. Remote access is good, especially when we are meeting with clients, but only works well if you have good broadband or mobile.”

phone reception. Certainly from a professional sector perspective, a cloud-based system gives versatility in an environment which is no longer nine to five, or office-based.”

Security fears

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of businesses responding to the Oxfordshire Business Barometer said that security was their greatest concern when dealing with cloud-based services. Shaw Gibbs’ Sarah Gardener said she was not surprised that security was a big concern.

“Mainstream platforms like Xero hold themselves out to be as safe as online banking and they have to deliver on that to build trust. We advise our clients to do simple housekeeping tasks like changing passwords regularly and monitoring who has access at what level. With many clients we are finding that security is a key concern but, provided stringent procedure is in place, the benefits of online services far outweigh any pitfalls. In fact we are planning to extend our online offering to clients, so expect news from us on this in 2016.”

Solid State Logic, which has its headquarters in Begbroke and is a global manufacturer of audio technology for the music and broadcast industries, uses cloud-based Salesforce CRM to manage its sales and marketing activities and RightNow for customer support, as well as various web-based services from its bank.

Chief Executive Antony David felt it would be interesting to understand what underlies businesses’ security fears.

“The business models for online platforms depend on their providing secure platforms so one would expect this to be taken care of. One of my worries is that cloud-based providers can create obstacles to moving to alternative services using ‘data security’ as an excuse. Over time this can lock users into less effective platforms and become a brake on improvements in service.”

VSL’s Richard Venables added: “Security will be an issue whether you are server or cloud-based and requires careful management. The cloud is a facility which is still being investigated by many companies and the results of this survey indicate an acknowledgement that these technological advancements will be of benefit, but an underlying lack of detailed knowledge and fear of security prevail.”

If you are interested in finding out more about Xero or cloud based servioces, please get in touch with Sarah Gardener at sarah.gardener@shawgibbs.com or call 01865 292286.

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