They say every cloud has a silver lining and with more companies than ever choosing cloud accountancy packages and software, the reality is it’s not always blue skies and sunshine in this virtual world.
LifeLineIT specialise in helping both accountants and SME’s – the core cloud accountancy market – with their network support and the two key issues we come across are security and availability of efficient Wi-Fi.
Cloud accountancy is ideal for many, as it means businesses have access to their accounts at a touch of a button, wherever they are or whatever time it is. But that only works if you have a good internet connection. Our recent research revealed that unreliable and costly communication networks that limit flexible working are one of the biggest frustrations amongst users.
Nearly half of those we surveyed regularly work remotely on cloud and 80% said access to reliable and fast public Wi-Fi was a concern. There are also frustrations with poor performing broadband, as well as having to pay for inadequate public Wi-Fi – something that is often fast, efficient and freely available on the continent.
It is estimated that one in 10 premises is a broadband and mobile ‘notspot’ (‘hard to reach area’ for broadband) and the Government is working on a number of ways to improve Wi-Fi and broadband, with eight pilot schemes currently underway to look at increasing broadband speeds, particularly in rural areas which are most affected. But again, that’s a major drawback for those who would have chosen a cloud option.
Another key concern highlighted in our research was open networks and public Wi-Fi security, especially given the sensitive and often confidential nature of conducting accountancy work over cloud.
Whilst it is encouraging that the Government is taking the issues around broadband and mobile networks seriously, unfortunately many of the initiatives to improve services will not come into practice until 2016.
However, there is still action that can be taken. The following guidance can help make working on cloud smarter, safer and more cost effective, especially in rural ‘notspots’:
Look at creating a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The nature of accountancy is the processing of confidential, financial information, so it is a worthwhile investment and should be subject to strict use throughout your company.
Clean up your computer
Make sure your computer makes the most of open networks or slow broadband by doing everything you can to speed up browsing, such as ensuring your software and particularly your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) is up to date and free from Malware and Adware, which sap your processor power and could compromise your privacy.
Invest in the best
Modern laptops will normally run the latest Wi-Fi standards which will allow you to connect at the fastest and most reliable speeds, but if you are running older hardware, you can buy an external wireless device that connects via your USB port that will allow you to take advantage of more modern standards with your existing computer.