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The Cloud: Transforming UK Businesses

Written by Neil Parsons, Managing Director, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK

Recent research suggests that an impressive 94% of all companies are now using cloud services and, significantly, for the first time in 12 years of the annual study, security is no longer the biggest inhibitor to cloud adoption.

The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) surveyed 250 UK-based organisations from the smallest businesses through to the largest enterprises in its annual Cloud: Driving Business Transformation study. The study identified that security now falls behind budget and legacy integration issues in order of companies’ top concerns surrounding cloud adoption, and 61% of companies in the study now feel more secure using the cloud.

This is not to say that barriers to 100% cloud adoption don’t remain – notably, there are still concerns around lack of budget and legacy integration issues, but, for the first time, security did not take the top spot when considering barriers to adoption.

The New Realities of Remote Working
As the study indicates, many companies have traditionally avoided cloud adoption or full cloud services implementation because they have concerns about storing data on remote servers (particularly those hosting highly sensitive data.) However, the research also reveals that many companies now accept that putting services in the cloud can be more secure than having them on-premise. When the pandemic led to most people working remotely, the idea of having on-premise servers that were unmanaged and unmonitored sparked more concern than cloud security concerns.

When you can’t physically visit your on-premise implementation to make changes and upgrades to
security infrastructure, dealing with security threats can become a daunting prospect, especially as
cybersecurity risks accelerated during the pandemic. Without the ability to deploy new and upgraded apps and tools to keep pace with security threats, many businesses felt exposed.

According to CIF, organisations have begun to consider the security threat landscape differently. Where it may once have sounded risky, the idea of centralising data and storing it on enterprise-grade secure servers run by cloud services expert providers started to make sense to those who may have lagged in cloud adoption. Beyond this, the additional security benefits offered by the cloud: DDoS protection, patching, logging and monitoring, and easily duplicating systems across multiple regions (among others) are certainly appealing to those low on IT resources.

Security: Challenge Versus Barrier
While it may no longer be the case that security is viewed as a top barrier to cloud adoption, it will
certainly continue to feature as a key consideration.

As the CIF study shows, 89% of responding companies identified network security as being hugely important and the aspect most critical to their organisation in terms of their five-year IT investment plans. Coupled with the fact that 88% of the organisations indicated that they expect their adoption of cloud to increase in the next 12 months, we can see that UK companies intend to keep moving forward with the cloud, ensuring they are doing all they can to ensure solid security initiatives are in place.

Your Cloud Accounting Future
At Wolters Kluwer we take our role in protecting our customers, employees, environment, assets, and reputation very seriously by investing in programs like cyber risk governance-frameworks. Cloud services have the power to enable businesses of all sizes to work dynamically and use technology to transform into truly agile competitors, and cloud technology is driving practice evolution and growth across the accounting profession. Most practices may find that they can’t match the security of today’s cloud providers, which may ultimately leave them at greater risk. As the CIF research shows, the key is to strike the right balance, do your research and make sure you have a transparent and communicative relationship with your cloud provider.