Change is inevitable; progress is optional—Tony Robbins.

Or, for the purposes of this article...CLOUD is inevitable; YOUR progress from it is optional.

The word “cloud” has taken on a whole new meaning over the last few years. What once was only seen in the sky above, “cloud” is now all around us. Do you have a smartphone? Did you post on Facebook today? LinkedIn? Twitter? All of those applications are considered cloud. In today's high tech world, in fact, we are all surrounded by the cloud.

But let’s consider another perspective. Were your managers able to approve expense reports today from their smartphone while travelling? Were you able to review financials on your tablet before the board meeting last week? Did your organization lose productivity due to snow days or family illness? While the cloud started as personal updates, bragging about your children and vacation photo sharing, it has now become savvy business! The cloud is indispensable to savvy business professionals because it allows access from any device regardless of whether you are in the office or not.

That’s why it’s important for today's CFO to be tech-savvy and cloud aware—and that requires continual education. We sometimes have a tendency to believe the worst when we see sensationalized, derogatory news stories about technology. But the rational and practical benefits of cloud accounting, along with any perceived risks, should be fully understood by all of today’s CFOs.

To be clear, the cloud will not make you smarter, but it will make you more connected and, consequently, more efficient. It will give you more time and more ways to get things done.

Utilize anytime-anywhere access, for instance, to provide managers, executives, investors and the board with real-time financial data. Break the boundaries of your office walls and access your data on the road, from home or in a hotel without the need of a VPN or Citrix or some other connectivity tool. Stuck at home because of a snow day or child's illness? Open your browser and get work done so you are not behind when you return!

Cloud accounting allows businesses to scale without the burden of additional hardware or software maintenance costs. You can avoid the hassles of dealing with vendor specific hardware requirements that often conflict with other vendor requirements. The cloud lets each individual user use whatever device they have—provided they have access to the Internet. Who says business can’t be done on a Mac? With the cloud, all you need is your favorite browser.

Regular and frequent updates not only add user-requested features, they also often enhance security and usability—without downtime or end user interaction. Cloud accounting vendors release updates to their software as often as quarterly when traditional accounting software often only provides one annually!

There are risks to cloud accounting. But often the biggest risks, and the ones most talked about, are only perceived risks—not true risks. The biggest perceived risk is the fear of security holes. We hear so much in the news about breaches and hacks, that it’s hard not to imagine the disaster of data falling into the wrong hands.

Cloud accounting vendors spend millions upon millions of dollars each year on hardware and software updates to plug those holes before they even open. The average small or medium-sized business could only spend a fraction of that amount on security and would likely be much more vulnerable to attack.

Loss of data ownership is another perceived risk of cloud accounting. Many believe the cloud accounting vendors will have your data trapped if you choose their solution. When evaluating cloud accounting subscription agreements, make sure the agreement has language that specifically states that your data remains your property. Also, cloud solutions, with its accelerated release cycles, often have better export capabilities to Excel and other programs that literally put the data in your hands.

Change is inevitable; progress is VITAL! Cloud accounting is progress. In fact, the biggest risk your company faces regarding cloud accounting is not making the move before your competition does. Don’t risk being left behind and becoming obsolete.

Today's CFOs need to be educated about the risks and benefits of cloud solutions to make rational, informed decisions. One of our goals at Massey Consulting is to provide that education. To that end, we compiled a white paper title "11 Reasons Companies Will Move to Cloud Accounting This Year" and we invite you to visit our website to receive your copy today!