Alex Campbell, Managing Director - Asia, Xero
From the dawn of the computer age, the most advanced technology lived primarily in the world of big business. Starting in the 1970s, big companies had mainframes with processing power and sophisticated software that small businesses were not able to afford. Even as Microsoft achieved its dream of a “computer on every desk” through the 1990s, the software and tools available to help small businesses lagged behind what was available to enterprise.
Now here was this more evident than in accounting software. While big business built complex and expensive ERP systems, small businesses were left with antiquated desktop accounting software with their data locked up on an accountant’s PC. The desktop-based nature of small business accounting software made it difficult for entrepreneurs and their financial advisors to collaborate and get the right data when it’s needed. While most big companies were able to use their cloud to get direct bank feeds into their ERP system, this was available to few small businesses.
The Cloud Brings a New World Order
Today, the cloud has fundamentally leveled the playing field between big business and small business. The cloud has allowed companies to not only level the playing field for small businesses but actually help them build a competitive advantage. With a single accounting ledger running in the cloud, small businesses can work with their financial advisors in real-time from any device, anywhere. For example, Xero has integrated with more than 100 banks around the world to bring automated bank feeds to hundreds of thousands of small businesses, so they can manage their cash flow day in, day out. Meanwhile, the cloud and modern design principles have allowed us to create beautiful and simple software that leapfrogs past the usability and capabilities of complex ERP systems.
"The evolution and expansion of cloud computing globally has enabled companies to grow and go global from any part of the world as no mass infrastructure is required."
Most importantly, great technology companies that were born in the cloud are built with APIs that allow an ecosystem of other businesses to use their platform. This means that small businesses can use an ecosystem of highly integrated and connected technology that serves the needs of their business.
Armed with the right technology, small businesses are able to gain a deeper understanding of their financial status and make better informed business decisions.
Cloud as the Catalyst for Growth
The evolution and expansion of cloud computing globally has enabled companies to grow and go global from any part of the world as no mass infrastructure is required. As technology becomes more affordable and easy to use – whether you are a small business owner or a corporate CIO – there are readily available solutions that can help you improve connectivity and efficiency. However, for entrepreneurs to fully benefit from the productivity wins and business insights that cloud delivers, they will need to consider how these new platforms can fit into their existing operations.
New Generation of Talents Needed
With so many innovative tools, it’s important for businesses to keep up or risk being left behind. Implementing the latest technological solutions will of course require the right talent and expertise. Furthermore, the tech industry is evolving at such a rapid pace that being comfortable with change and disruption is a necessary skill set.
It’s therefore encouraging to see that many graduates today are armed with skill sets that did not exist a decade ago. After all, these graduates had a different upbringing to our own, growing up surrounded by a world of technology. Rather than textbooks, their learning is with cloud apps and the Internet. Business owners should harness it. A graduate who understands technology, even if you don’t, will be a huge asset in the long run.