Why Is Cloud Based Technology Required To Future Proof Your Business

Holding over 25 years of experience in global businesses across geographies & sectors, Manjula is also mentor to young and aspiring leaders.

2020 has been quite the roller coaster ride for the whole world with the coronavirus pandemic turning pretty much everyone's lives upside down. We are living in uncertain times and new challenges seem to be mushrooming every day. As 2021 draws closer, we will begin to realise that though this year has been challenging, it has also showered us with a plethora of learnings.

One of the biggest impacts of this pandemic has been on the way businesses are being run. It is safe to say more businesses have moved away from manual functions and have opted to digitally transform their business systems this year as compared to previous years. Remote working has led to a change, not just in the way we function, but also in what and how we deliver our business offerings. This change in consumer behaviour has also carved a path for cloud technology to become an integral part of business functions.

While we are witnessing a change in the way we work, the way we offer our products or services have also changed. Offerings that seemed difficult to shift online earlier made a gradual shift this year. Before 2020, the chances of a fitness business even considering the transition to online services was slim. But the pandemic has seen gyms and health professionals switch to instructional videos, group video conference workouts and yoga sessions, live fitness challenges on social media and many more. Many businesses have collaborated with fitness and health influencers to offer interactive home workouts for employees.

Businesses in India have realised that the traditional style of working which requires employees to be physically present, or face to face interactions, can no longer continue without risking the health of their employees. In today's business scenario, work infrastructure using web conferencing tools just scratches the surface that is cloud-based technology. Remote working is not limited to video calls, it is so much more. Businesses who were not accustomed to work from home had to transition several functions digitally, including workplace administration, employee engagement, set up collaboration tools, secure IT infrastructure including virtual private networks; all the tasks which were earlier accomplished using local networks or physical technology infrastructure. While some functions can be easily accomplished by large businesses with a robust IT team in place, smaller businesses have had it rough. Many small businesses even started opting for e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart and online ordering channels like Big Basket, Zomato or Dunzo for essential items. The initial exercise must have been positively demanding, embracing cloud solutions is always a good idea as they are designed to benefit businesses in the long run.

From data security and online collaboration to online sales, record keeping and data mining - cloud-based services offer businesses the opportunity to explore their untapped potential. Not only can businesses become completely paperless, they can also eliminate mundane manual tasks like data entry, data backup etc giving their functions the time and energy to focus on what really matters - growth. But it's not just the front liner business functions that adopted cloud-based technology. Several backbencher businesses functions like tax compliance, accounting, billing and invoice management went through tremendous digital transformation, majorly due to the launch of e-invoicing under GST by Indian indirect tax authorities.

If you were to compare an old-school finance and accounting department to a modern department that already adopted cloud technology, you would see a massive improvement

The fact that switching the tax and accounting function to a cloud-based system offers flexibility along with improved risk mitigation is one of the reasons why it is recommended. The tax and accounting function of many businesses is known to be the last one to undergo any digital transformation. However, despite the current situation, businesses have to be GST compliant and e-invoicing requirements must be met to ensure cash flow. The pandemic has forced many enterprises to shift functions like tax, risk and compliance to cloud-based technology solutions and this is happening despite extended deadlines. The lockdown due to COVID-19 overnight changed the way chartered accountants were fulfilling compliance obligations including GST returns and GST audits. They were unable to go to offices and perform their tasks which were mostly dependent on face-to-face interactions with clients and physical documents. Cloud-based softwares proved to be helpful and gave accounting and tax professionals the freedom to perform their jobs from home with access to an internet connection. Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), national professional accounting body of India, even recommended usage of cloud-based compliance technology solutions to its members.

If you were to compare an old-school finance and accounting department to a modern department that already adopted cloud technology, you would see a massive improvement. Unlike the traditionally used on-premise solutions, cloud technology allows easier collaboration by safely and securely storing all sensitive data. Everything can be easily saved and backed up using cloud storage. When COVID-19 struck, concerns about operating from different locations using different technology and collaborating smoothly weren't an issue for accounting and finance teams who had already made the transition to cloud-based technology. Additionally, cloud-based GST software solutions are the ideal choice for CFOs and accounting managers mainly because they can be accessed from anywhere through the internet, even when working from home. Known to be cost effective and suitable for organisations of all sizes, a software-as-a-service based solutions or SaaS solutions for GST compliance and e-invoicing reduce the rate of manual errors, improves efficiency by automating manual tasks like invoice reconciliations and can be updated as per changes announced by the Government.

The big question is, are cloud services here to stay? Undeniably, they are here to stay but also, they will thrive in the new normal. Experts have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has played the part of a lynchpin that has set the dominoes rolling. It has changed the outlook of businesses extensively. In fact, prominent Indian FMCG brand CavinKare shut down its headquarters three months into the pandemic as they realised remote working was proving to be far more productive. It goes without saying that businesses are likely to realise how much can be achieved through cloud-based technology. With 2021 just around the corner, getting back to traditional business functions seems like an unlikely possibility, meaning, cloud-based technology could essentially become the grassroots weaving into a foundation on which businesses will scale in the near future.