The annual Reach for the Clouds AIT Conference 2022 took place on the 28th & 29th of September, bringing IT directors and senior staff together from some of the UK's top accountancy firms.
The event spanned two days and allowed guests to network with accountancy firms and suppliers through a mix of informative presentations, open discussions and social activities.
Compared with other sectors, such as retail, sports and media, accountancy has often been considered a ‘slow mover’ based on a concentration of traditional desktop solutions that are not yet ready for the cloud.
As a sponsor this year, Softcat took to the stage to share an overview of Cloud journeys in the accountancy sector, including offering an assessment of the current market, insight from organisations and recommended focus areas for the next 12 months.
Sharing key findings from Softcat’s annual Business Tech Priorities Report, Matthew Larder, Head of Cloud and Dean Gardner, Field CTO at Softcat, revealed that only 17 percent of customers stated Cloud as an investment priority. A figure they believe is based on the premise that many organisations already heavily use Cloud and instead have a focus to application and data modernisation
Other insights included findings that over 50 percent of enterprise data and workloads are, or will be, in the public cloud in the next 12 months or so, despite 32 percent of spend being wasted and 83 percent of organisations citing a cloud skills challenge.
It was also discussed that 70 percent of accounting firms report substantial return on investment when leveraging automated functions, with a boom forecasted for data specialisms to support organisations with areas such as predictive analytics. So much so, 36 percent of accounting organisations are now planning to implement cloud-based solutions.
Organisations have revealed a desire to continue building on their existing internal IT capabilities. Although the variable nature of the cloud means they struggle with governance and compliance and cite security as a big challenge, with many held back by legacy technology.
Matthew Larder reflected: “At this year’s AIT Conference, we wanted to understand what changes are occurring in the accountancy sector and how organisations are using cloud technologies.
“And the event didn’t disappoint. There has been a clear shift from many of the software vendors from traditional to cloud native solutions. As well as clear signals that many of the businesses present, face considerable challenges around keeping critical data secure.”
This year’s event was the 13th annual AIT Conference. It has gained an enviable reputation as the go-to gathering for IT professionals in the accounting sector, bringing together and reconnecting member firms and suppliers.
key takeaways from the event:
- While core industry-specific evolutions have been slower than other industries, the majority of accountancy businesses do have cloud-first strategies in place, with many already using only Cloud, albeit IaaS in some cases where key software isn’t quite ready for something more advanced.
- Many traditional software vendors are now embracing cloud with cloud-native SaaS solutions.
- There is a big emphasis on unification and simplification. However, there are mixed views about specialist vs best breed software.
- The consensus is the criticality of productivity solutions, including Microsoft 365, as well as leveraging this investment to its fullest for SharePoint document management.
- Data security, including protection against modern risks, such as Ransomware, are high up the agenda for many of the businesses present at the event.