Trends & Insights

Business in the cloud: Lessons learned in 2020

Man in home office

How have the events of 2020 impacted businesses so far? That is the question we recently posed on Twitter. Below is an edited transcript of our Twitter chat with our expert panel, their responses covered cloud migration, remote working, lessons learned from this unique period in history, and the importance of people.

The discussion included the following participants:

  • Tripp Braden, growth and development strategist, Strategic Performance Partners
  • Tom Hood, president and CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs
  • Rafael Casas, senior accountant advocate, Sage
  • Kay Dexter, marketing strategist, Sage
  • Gary Boomer, visionary and strategist, Boomer Consulting
  • Carol Stephen, author and social media expert, Your Social Media Works
  • Blake Oliver, executive producer, Cloud Accounting Podcast
  • Garrett Wagner, co-host, Entrepreneurial CPA Show

Did the pandemic accelerate the shift to the cloud or solidify its importance?

“The pandemic has permanently changed client and customer expectations. The cloud has become a foundation for future business growth.  It allows the business leader to define new opportunities for growth within their customer base and beyond at a lower cost of sales. The cloud empowers this digital transformation.” – Tripp Braden @TrippBraden

“The disruption we’ve faced in 2020 so far caused all businesses to shift overnight how they operated.  Due to the nature of the disruption, the world was forced into virtual work.  The real question isn’t have you shifted to the cloud already [because] everyone has. The real question is will you stay in the cloud or [will you] go backwards and become irrelevant?” – Garrett Wagner @garrettwagner37

What lessons have we learned from the events of 2020?

“Firms are more resilient than they thought. Surprisingly, they were all able to go virtual with 48 hours during busy season.  Were personal preferences holding them back?” – L. Gary Boomer @lgboomer

“We’ve learned that we are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. However, we need to work on being more proactive than reactive. When we are prepared these events don’t change our businesses too much.” – Rafael Casas @SageRafaelCasas

How has 2020 impacted business continuity strategies?

“Many entrepreneurs had to reconsider how they do career planning for their key people.  All it took was one key person’s illness and the rest of the organization had to step up.” – Tripp Braden @TrippBraden

“2020 has turned many businesses on their heads. We’re really seeing who the leaders are right now.” – Carol Stephen @Carol_Stephen

Which lasting business process changes could result from this year?

“Clearly remote and distributed work, cloud-based accounting systems, visual communication, and e-commerce will stay with us into the future.” – Tom Hood @tomhood

“Electronic signatures and workflow for tax prep must be updated to take advantage of the technology and reduce cycle times.” – L. Gary Boomer @lgboomer

“A big change is that management has to learn to trust employees.  The days of micromanagement are over if they want to survive.” – Carol Stephen @Carol_Stephen

“The forceful push to cloud and virtual environments. Businesses right now, more than ever, are required to ‘play in’ and ‘learn’ cloud. Re-education/training to all things cloud or virtual is the new normal.” – Kay Dexter @TheKayDexter

What are some barriers to migrating to the cloud and how can they be overcome?

“Stubbornness about learning new technology is a huge barrier. People don’t like change. Give the early adopters the job of helping the others.” – Carol Stephen @Carol_Stephen

“Training and education. Also, data discrepancies or comprising of data. Lack of planning. Ensuring users, regardless of business size, that are using the software platform are in the planning and migration conversations. This way they feel motivated to participate.” – Kay Dexter @TheKayDexter

“Most of the barriers to migrating to the cloud revolve around mindsets that are resisting the changes – COVID has overcome them in the short-term. The long-term will require change leadership.” – Tom Hood @tomhood

“Upgrading your technology to provide better collaboration and connectivity will provide for increasing results. Upgrading your people’s capabilities will provide exponential opportunities.” – Tripp Braden @TrippBraden

What is the priority when developing an effective cloud strategy – people, technology, or something else?

“Focus on the ‘who’ can get it done, rather than the how. It takes a team to provide client services. The day of the rugged individual is over.” – L. Gary Boomer @lgboomer

“Creating a great culture where technology and people can be empowered. Technology and innovation are useless if you don’t have the right culture in place that has set the right business processes in play for technology to succeed.” – Rafael Casas @SageRafaelCasas

“It hasn’t changed, PEOPLE are the priority, be it the employees, partners, or clients.  People allow the technology and/or systems to work. You must listen to them and use their insights to develop an effective cloud strategy.” – Kay Dexter @TheKayDexter

“So why do we let other factors determine how we deploy our cloud strategies? It’s all about the people!” – Tripp Braden @TrippBraden

“The #1 thing is people and their mindsets about the future and technology. Technology and process should follow the people.” – Tom Hood @tomhood