Over the last decade, Adam Bluemner has focused his career on keeping up with the technology trends and business needs of corporate executives across a wide range of industries. Through his publications and through his work as Managing Editor of Find Accounting Software, Adam has helped thousands of businesses achieve success through smart software investment.
Most recently, Adam has researched the evolution and adoption of cloud-based business software, as well as which factors are leading businesses to increasingly adopt cloud solutions. We caught up with Adam last week and asked him about the benefits of cloud-based technology, specifically for corporate finance leaders. Here’s what he had to say.
Adaptive: How can finance leaders leverage cloud tools to become the drivers of key decisions within their business?
Adam: It’s safe to say that the cloud has fully arrived. What I mean by that is that when considering the breadth of financial management software solutions available, you can find cloud software capable of supporting every functional niche within the finance department, from planning to treasury to controllership.
The ability to quantify data on departmental and project related revenues and expenses means that finance generally has a critical voice when it comes to identifying deficiencies and planning, budgeting, and forecasting for future investments. Cloud-hosted solutions providing budgeting and planning support are critical tools for financial leaders looking to use data analytics to drive decisions.
Adaptive: How are cloud solutions helping finance teams solve data accuracy issues?
Adam: One of the major culprits when it comes to data accuracy issues is the presence of disconnected systems. Disconnected systems often mean that data is being moved in and out of programs in ways that may require manual processes or other opportunities for errors to enter into the stored data.
For a variety of reasons, web-based cloud solutions tend to more frequently feature APIs that offer a normalized portal for data to flow in and out of the software without requiring the type of additional user intervention that is likely to introduce errors. Adaptive Insights is in fact a good example of this phenomenon at play in a cloud based financial system, as data integration with Adaptive Insights is supported by a Web Services API.
Adaptive: How are cloud solutions helping finance teams become more efficient?
Adam: APIs are actually part of the answer to this question as well. Avoiding re-entering data into multiple systems not only removes opportunities to introduce errors, it fundamentally saves time.
Another source of efficiency stemming from cloud solutions is the ease of extending deployments. A web-based program doesn’t require installing any sort of client-side software, other than a browser, so rolling out access to new users is considerably more efficient and requires less ongoing support.
Adaptive: Statistically, what percentages of buyers of business and intelligence software communicate a preference for the cloud?
Adam: Interest in cloud-based solutions for business intelligence software has definitely picked up over the last several years. Each year we speak with thousands of companies interested in business intelligence programs. Here’s some of the data we’ve seen that testifies to the growing interest in cloud solutions for this particular software category:
In 2013, Over half (50.3%) of the buyers needing either budgeting or reporting software whom we spoke with reported they were “open” to considering cloud-based options.
Between 2009 – 2013, we found a 15X percentage increase in the number of budgeting software buyers who indicated a “strong preference” for cloud software.
Between 2009 – 2013, we found a 16X percentage increase in the number of reporting software buyers who indicated a “strong preference” for cloud software
Adaptive: Which cloud benefits do you find budgeting & planning customers responding to?
Adam: I’ve mentioned a number of different attributes of cloud platform solutions that I see customers responding positively already, but this is probably a great place to sum them up: ease of deployment, access to web services API’s, and anywhere & anytime access are among the most significant benefits.
Another attribute of many cloud solutions that I find customers often respond positively to is the ability of a SaaS solution to spread costs out more evenly over time. Even when a strong ROI appears likely, it can be difficult for many organizations to free up the capital to make software investments. Frequently, it’s simply a matter of prioritization and companies will pass up the opportunity to invest in more capable technology, solely because of prioritization of other capital projects. SaaS changes the math significantly by lowering the barrier to entry and spreading costs out–allowing more companies to begin reaping the benefits of more capable software sooner.