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To stay relevant, finance pros must embrace change

For the past couple of years, emerging growth companies have been reaping the benefits of cloud computing. The momentum of small startup companies using innovative technology to make their business processes more efficient can be seen everywhere.

As a financial consultant specializing in emerging growth companies, I have been particularly amazed at the positive impacts that the “paperless” office and cloud computing are having on my clients every day. Gone are the gray stainless-steel filing cabinets packed with invoices, checks and receipts. My files are stored in the cloud and accessible from my computer wherever I go.

In an ever-constant quest for improvement, I’m continually changing and fine-tuning our accounting and finance processes. That includes turning to the myriad of cloud applications, such as Bill.com, Expensify and Right Networks, that provide high-speed, low-cost solutions. They make me, and my clients, more efficient and effective. Best of all, I can control and implement these applications myself—no need to rely on the IT department. And the tools can scale down to meet the needs of a startup company.

Having recently attended webinars and presentations by finance executives across a variety of industries, I think it’s clear that cloud technology is transforming the way accounting and finance must do business—but we seem to be the laggard adopters. Only 3 percent of our potential market is in the cloud, compared to a healthy 35 percent for sales and other services businesses, and about 20 percent in HR fields.

We cannot afford to ignore the time- and cost-saving benefits—not to mention the accuracy and convenience of, say, being able to compile original financial documents for financing due diligence or an audit at the click of a button.

It’s time for finance to embrace the change and deliver better, faster information to company executives. We need to take advantage of cloud technology if we are to shed the image of being the “work horse” department, and make full use of our analytical expertise and partner up with internal corporate functions to provide more meaningful and timely information that will impact the company’s bottom line.

We must be ready to re-educate, re-learn and re-invent the future.

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