Tax & Accounting Blog

The Sky is the Limit

Accounting Firms, Business Strategy & Development, CS Professional Suite, Technology January 4, 2016

Let’s talk about the cloud. What is it, where is it and how secure is it, really?

I’ll start with a recent observation. Everyone I know seems to be hooked on their Fitbit®. They tell me how the Fitbit tracks their activity, their sleep and more—and I’ve personally witnessed people pacing around their living rooms at night in an effort to meet their daily steps goals. It’s an interesting sight.

I hear you can also compete with your friends and send each other “taunts.” Some people say fear is
a great motivator, but apparently nothing compares to a playful reminder of your inferiority.

The point is, the cloud is already ingrained in our daily lives in many ways—from tracking your Fitbit stats to creating online photo albums, and from downloading and storing books and music to storing documents with Google Drive or other similar services. We even use the cloud when we do business through portals with banks and health professionals.

It can be hard to wrap your mind around a term as ethereal as “the cloud,” but it really just refers to software and services that run over the internet, instead of locally on your computer. Although the term and cloud products such as ours have been around online since the ’90s, things have really accelerated in the past few years. And the next explosion, as exemplified by Fitbit, is the Internet of Things (IoT). Given IoT, we’re expected to have some 50 billion devices connected within the next five years.

The average consumer isn’t only accustomed to working on the cloud—they expect it.

Firms are understandably concerned about security when putting client data on the cloud. However, the truth is that the cloud is a lot more secure than you might think. It’s extremely unlikely that a reputable cloud vendor would be hacked, especially if you choose a well-reviewed vendor that’s been in the business for a number of years. A data-focused business is one of the key things that truly motivates companies to step up their security—and a cloud vendor’s business is all about securing data, unlike a Sony® or Target® who focus on their core businesses.

When comparing vendors, you can look for third-party certification and ask to see a copy of the firm’s Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16 (SSAE 16), specifically their Service Organization Control (SOC2) audit. These standards test a vendor’s infrastructure in areas including security, integrity, confidentiality and ability to protect clients’ personal information.

Cloud computing has already transformed the business of tax and accounting professionals who have embraced it—and those firms who embrace the cloud are better positioned for future business and to give exceptional 24/7 service to their clients. If your firm is not there yet, you should jump on board. The sky is the limit!