Accountancy firms are slower in adopting and using cloud-based services than other corporate sectors, a Thomson Reuters study has found.
It estimated that by the end of 2013, only three out of 10 accountancy practices will be using use cloud computing as compared with seven out of 10 UK businesses using some form of cloud.
The study of more than 1,300 accountancy firms – IT in Practice Survey – found that the accounting sector has started its cloud journey with 11% of respondents citing the use of cloud platforms in their practices. About 23% of respondents also said that they are planning to use cloud to host all or part of their workloads in the next 12 months.
Cloud is an important part of the future IT strategy of many UK accountancy firms, according to Andrew Flanagan, managing director, professional market for the tax and accounting business at Thomson Reuters.
“The main reason practices are looking to move to cloud-based solutions is to allow employees to work remotely; for example, from a client's premises and to enable use of new mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets,” he said.
Flanagan estimated that in a few years all software and data will be in the cloud.
But many respondents are still resistant to change because they do not see the need to use cloud or feel they would not derive any additional benefit over their existing hosting service.
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About 8% of respondents said migrating to cloud would mean a big change in the way they worked and they do not know where to start.
Despite cloud use accelerating quickly, as many as 22% of respondents were unable to quantify the benefits.
For those that could see cloud benefits, enhanced flexibility was the number one benefit. Easier upgrades and support came in second followed by IT cost savings in third place, while 36% said that the ability to save money would definitely influence their decision to adopt it.
But the study revealed that the majority of accountancy firms still face a steep learning curve and cite data security as a hurdle.
When considering moving software and data to a cloud environment, 44% said they were worried about system availability and reliability while just over a third (34%) expressed concern that broadband speeds are too slow in their part of the country.
Respondents also quoted implementation time and quality of support as other big concerns.