Busting cloud computing myths with Pastel My Business Online

September 2013

Cloud computing is shaking things up in the business world and the rapid increase in mobile devices will add to the incentive for online business applications, bringing mobility to the entrepreneur on-the-go.
But far from just providing mobility, cloud is the most cost-effective and easiest way for SMEs to access business management tools without complex and expensive IT infrastructure. In addition, all upgrades feed into the system automatically and any changes to Tax or VAT legislation will be accounted for.
As Steven Cohen, MD of Sage Pastel Accounting, the company that brought the first comprehensive online accounting program to the market (www.pastelmybusiness.co.za), says: All it takes to reap the rewards is a willingness to look past some traditional misconceptions to gain a balanced overview of this new way that businesses are being run. Here are some of his myth busting tips to get into the cloud!
Myth 1: It isn’t secure to place valuable business information on the internet
People have been placing their sensitive information on the internet for years. Facebook and Gmail are perfect examples of cloud applications and most of us have unquestionably adopted them, placing large volumes of private data, personal emails, and photographs on the web.
There is no reason why it should be any different for businesses, most of which have entrusted their financial operations to outside service providers for decades. Cloud computing providers are probably the safest way to manage your accounts and are essentially, the banks of the enterprise technology world. Like a bank, cloud vendors service multiple end-users and can afford stringent security measures that are far more vigorous than what is affordable and practical in a private home or business.

According to a 2012 Microsoft survey of SMEs in five geographies, 57% of those using cloud say they spend less time managing security; 54% saw an improvement in their security measures; and 48% said they spent less time worrying about their vulnerability to cyber attacks.
One must still be fastidious when it comes to choosing a cloud vendor. Do the research and make sure they offer enhanced security options, including two-factor authentication and restricted access based on an internet protocol (IP) address.

Myth 2: Sales organisations benefit from cloud applications, because their people are mobile. My financial staff stays put, so the cloud does nothing for me.
I remember the early days as an accountant and then a business owner when we would have to travel to our each other’s premises, briefcase in hand bursting with cash slips to reconcile accounts.

So imagine a financial system where you and your accountant can perform work on live data from each of your own offices – and at the same time. Think of the time saved by your accountant being able to prepare provisional tax estimates and produce an income statement while you work on your customer invoices, stock control, and collecting money. 
When it comes to mobility, it’s not just for your sales staff. As an entrepreneur the ability to review finances from your home, internet cafe, or on the beach means you will have your finger on the pulse at all times, giving you the flexibility to leave the office and pursue new ventures and clients.

Myth 3: We can't afford the risk of being early adopters.
According to a World Wide Worx statistic, nearly 50% of all corporations are using the cloud with the number of SMEs adopting cloud computing set to double this year. With large companies leading the way, SMEs that remain guarded only stand to loose ground between their larger competitors. The cost saving potential is even more valuable for smaller businesses that don’t have the IT budget of large companies.

The way forward
While users remain apprehensive about all of their data and activities taking place in cyber space, I’ve started recommending a hybrid approach to tackling the move online. A less scary approach is to keep certain applications on your actual server while others run in the cloud. This allows users to remain in control of the majority of their work but can slowly familiarise themselves with the way online services work.

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