In a Highly Connected World, the Cloud is Making a Strategic Difference

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Laurent Charpentier, Yooz Inc.'s chief innovation officer and COO. 

Every day thousands of startups are created in the world. When companies are started, the entrepreneurs have so many questions, things to understand, and rules and regulations to comply with. We find ourselves asking:

  • In a highly connected world, how is the cloud making a strategic difference?
  • How will the use of smartphones revolutionize the software industry?
  • And how will today’s tools for automating accounting and finance workflows help?

Technology has changed the way we work and do business in general. What was once local is now global. Teams used to hold meetings around a table in a conference room — and now they join a conference call, log in to an online meeting or participate in a telecast. What were once corporate headquarters are now co-working office spaces, sometimes even coffeeshops. Office hours used to be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and now they are 24/7 (at least it feels like it at times!) A storefront has Open and Closed hours posted, but the consumer can shop online any time of the day or night. 

Another trend that has been on the rise in recent years is BYOD — bring your own device — to work. Companies have started allowing, and even encouraging, employees to use their own laptop, tablet or phone, rather than company-issued one(s).

There are advantages to this, such as increased productivity and reduced costs, that seem to be outweighing issues and concerns, such as managing company security.

BYOD (or BYO Tablet, BYO Phone, BYOPC) is made possible because of cloud technology. And so is the rising use of smartphones as computers. Many professionals don’t use a PC at all.

Think about it. A person can do anything from checking and responding to emails, to viewing and editing a Word document, to watching and listening to a webinar or virtual meeting, to — in the case of AP automation tools — approving invoices all from a smartphone or tablet; especially now as mobile device screens are getting larger. The same can be said about almost any business activity in this day and age.

And it’s making it easier to pack our schedules even tighter. Running late to a meeting? Join from your smartphone so you don’t miss anything until you arrive in person. Wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea? Email or text it to your interested co-worker (and don’t worry about waking them up, they’re likely in a different time zone in some other part of the world). Stuck in traffic and need to remind yourself or someone else to submit payroll? Leave yourself a voice memo. Of course, this is all fine and good if you’re building a business … not so much if you need some personal time.

So, when we consider our first two questions, it’s sort of like a chicken-and-egg scenario: The most useful business applications leverage cloud technology so that they can be accessed around the clock and from anywhere in the world on a mobile device. And the more widespread the use of smartphones, the more important it is for software engineers to build products that can be accessed in the cloud.

Sure, there are still many uses for on-premise, enterprise level systems. But, for the thousands of start-ups and small businesses that are being created every day, many of which are using people in other parts of the country or world, they must be able to run around the clock. Cloud technology allows them to do that without having to worry about maintaining servers or IT support for technical issues.

How will today’s tools for automating accounting and finance workflows help new small businesses and tech start-ups?

  1. You don’t have to be an accounting professional: If you have ever started a business you know that you begin with a small core group of people and everyone does everything! Some of today’s sophisticated, cloud-based invoice and payment processing (AP) automation solutions are so user-friendly, with an easy implementation and on-boarding process, that your entire team can be trained on the system. It’s only a matter of determining who will approve the invoices and submit them for payment. Then on to marketing, raising money, software engineering … and making the coffee.
  2. Only pay for what you need and add as you grow: Start-ups should consider automation platforms that can be customized, so you only pay for what you need yet will scale with you as you grow and need more complex solutions. This is an advantage of cloud-based solutions rather than the on-premise solutions appropriate for large enterprise. And trust me, you’ll need the money you save for plenty of other things as you get your business going.
  3. You work around the clock and so should your AP automation solution. Cloud-based AP automation solutions are accessible 24/7, and processing your invoices will be one of the easiest parts of running your business.

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