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One of the key roles of the finance department is to ensure the profitability and cost-effectiveness of the wider business, so you’d expect it to embrace tools that help achieve this. Yet as we stand at the beginning of 2016, too many finance departments are ignoring the one technology able to reduce operational expenditure, improve agility and strengthen the bottom line – the cloud.
For years, organizations have been wary about entrusting sensitive and confidential data, such as financial information, to a third party provider. While it’s only natural that businesses should be highly protective of their data, there is a risk that those who eschew the cloud are allowing themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security based on outdated preconceptions.
Many finance departments might query whether the benefits outweigh the perceived security risks of moving highly sensitive financial performance figures to the cloud? This might seem a highly apposite question, but in fact it demonstrates a lack of awareness about modern cloud technology. The question should rather be: “is our existing infrastructure secure enough to keep our data safe from today’s threats?” or, more simply: “can we risk keeping our financial information in-house?”
One must recognize why finance departments are unwilling to “hand over” their data to a third party, but in spite of their good intentions, keeping this information in-house gives only a false sense of security. No matter how good an organisation’s IT team and how modern its technology infrastructure, it’s unlikely to better that of a cloud company whose experts spend their days constantly optimizing security and availability.
Finance is not the only department responsible for sensitive data, but unlike other lines of business it has traditionally missed out on the benefits of cloud such as greater agility, opex pricing, affordable access to the latest software and improved collaborative working.
What’s more, they are denying critical financial data from cloud-based systems such as Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that a business uses to gain a picture of its health and to marshal resources effectively. To work effectively, however, such systems need a holistic view of all resources across the organisation – physical, human, and especially financial – if a business is to understand how it can accomplish transformational projects. If the finance department’s data is not included, that leaves a yawning gap in a business’s understanding of its own assets, making it much less able to understand how budgets can best be marshalled to fulfil the aims of any project.
It’s always better to err on the side of safety, but given the billions that have been ploughed into creating ultra-robust and secure cloud platforms, is data any safer residing in legacy, on-premises systems?
Cloud has been with us for long enough for reputable service providers to have built strong reputations for reliability and security. Moving to the cloud is now seen less as a leap in the dark, but a strategic move to improve data security – not to mention the numerous other benefits it will bring to the finance department, its employees, and the wider business.
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