Monday, May 21, 2018

Cloud: Look before you leap—and discover unbelievable new agility

All around the world, finance teams are now fully embracing the cloud to simplify their operations. The heady allure of reduced costs, increased functionality, and other benefits are driving the migration. Yet what’s getting people really excited is the unexpected flush of new business agility they experience after they’ve made the change.

At long last, the cloud is becoming accepted as the default environment to simplify ERP and EPM. Fifty-six percent* of finance teams have already moved to the cloud—or will do so within the next year—and 24% more plan to move at some point soon.

 

Major cost benefits in the cloud

Businesses are making the change to enjoy a wide range of benefits. According to a recent survey by Oracle*, reducing costs is (predictably) the main motivation, with improved functionality in second place—and culture, timing and the ability to write-off existing investments also key factors. The financial motivation breaks down into a desire to avoid infrastructure investment and on-premises upgrades, and also to achieve a lower total cost of ownership.

And Cloud is delivering on its promise in all these areas—across both ERP and EPM, 70% say they have experienced economic benefits after moving to the cloud.

 

Leap for joy at cloud agility

But the biggest overall benefit of moving to the cloud—quoted by 85% of those who have made the change—is staying current on technology. Moreover, 75% say that cloud improves usability, 71% say it increases flexibility and 68% say that it enables them to deploy faster. Financial gain is the top motivation for moving to the cloud, but that’s only the fourth-ranked advantage overall once there. It turns out that the main strengths of the cloud are in areas that help finance organisations improve business agility.

These are pretty amazing numbers. It would be unheard of, until fairly recently, for any decent-sized organisation to consider migrating its core ERP or EPM systems without a very, very good reason. Now, the majority of companies believe that the advantages of such a move—and specifically, moving to the cloud—overwhelm any downside.

 

The commercial imperative

Indeed, the benefits are more likely viewed as a competitive necessity. Cloud eliminates the old cycle of new system launches every two or three years—replacing it with incremental upgrades several times each year, and easy, instant access to additional features and capabilities.

And that is, no doubt, what’s behind the figures above. Finance professionals have an increasingly strong appetite to experiment with and exploit the latest technologies. AI, robotic process automation, internet of things, intelligent bots, augmented reality and blockchain are all being evaluated and used by significant numbers of organisations.

They’re improving efficiency in their day-to-day operations, joining-up operating processes across their business and reducing manual effort (and human error) through increased automation. Moreover, AI is increasingly being applied to analytics to find answers to compelling new questions that were, themselves, previously unthinkable—providing powerful new strategic insights.

Finance organisations are becoming more agile—able to think smarter, work more flexibly, and act faster using the very latest technical capabilities.

 

But it’s only available via cloud-based ERP and EPM

Increasingly, all these advances are only being developed as part of cloud-based platforms. And more and more advanced features are filtering down to entry-level cloud solutions—at least in basic form—encouraging finance people everywhere to experiment with what’s possible. That means, if you’re not yet using these tools in the cloud, you’re most likely falling behind your competitors that are—and that applies both from the broader business perspective as well as from the internal operating competency viewpoint.

The cloud makes it simple to deploy, integrate and experiment with new capabilities, alongside whatever you may already have in place. It has become the new normal in finance. It seems like we’re now at a watershed moment where those that embrace the potential of cloud will accelerate away from those that do not, and potentially achieve unassailable new operating efficiencies.

The good news is that it’s easy to get started.  According to MIT Technology Review in a 2017 report, 86% of those making a transition to the cloud said the costs were in line with, or better than expected, and 87% said that the timeframe of transition to the cloud was in line with, or better than expected.

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* Except where stated otherwise, all figures in this article are taken from ‘Combined ERP and EPM Cloud Trends for 2018’, Oracle, 2018.

 



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