The thieves of today don’t typically break into banks or have getaway cars, they sit at a computer thousands of miles away sending attacks to get their hands on valuable client data to, in many cases, sell on the ‘Dark Web.’ As such, it’s become more important than ever to define an accounting firm IT strategy, no matter the size of your practice.
With more firms pursuing the worthwhile and groundbreaking benefits of cloud computing and storage, they become more susceptible to threats they can’t block or detect with firewalls and antivirus software.
Hence, the traditional defenses against data breach – protocols for using and storing physical devices – simply won’t protect your organization from today’s modern threats. So, in order to thoroughly protect your firm from data breach, here are three key reasons why an intentional and thoroughly researched IT strategy is a must-have for the coming year.
1. The Cloud Has Changed How We Work
According to the software security company McAfee’s recent report, “Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: The state of cloud adoption and security,” 93% of all organizations and 99% of financial service organizations currently host or store data in the cloud.
This fundamental change in how accounting firms and their clients do business can leave your data vulnerable if you have not considered what role IT plays in your overall business strategy. The risks of locally managed, onsite servers being compromised is three-fold due to the lack of enterprise tools implemented as well as outdated systems not being maintained. A clear IT strategy will give you the information you need to put strategic planning in place and make the most of new cloud-based landscape opportunities.
2. Accounting Firms are Prime targets for Attacks
Data breaches are more common now among organizations in general, but accounting firms are even more at risk because they handle such sensitive financial, and personal client data. If you don’t think it can happen to you, think again.
More than 500 million financial records were stolen in 2014, alone. This means all firms, big or small, are susceptible to getting hacked.
Clearly, prominent brands are not entirely safe as evidenced by recent hacks of Facebook, Google, and GoToMyPC to name a few, but neither are smaller brands. In fact, there were more than 750,000 ransomware attacks in 2016 and more than 80 percent of US companies have been breached. Not having an IT strategy only leaves you and your clients more vulnerable.
3. Technology is a Competitive Advantage
If you’re in the camp that insists on doing things the way you’ve always done them, you’ll want to pay careful attention in 2018 to the connection between technology adoption and performance. The right kind of technology can provide enhanced protection to your accounting firm’s data and clients. Plus, it helps your team members outperform competing firms, by speeding up your processes or providing enhanced value to your clients.
For example, hedge fund firm Sasserath & Zoraian, LLP wins more business using the investment management software Advent Geneva versus Excel spreadsheets. In general, larger hedge funds want to limit human error, but don’t want to have to pay for and learn the program in-house. These kinds of benefits can turn your accounting firm IT strategy into an important opportunity to differentiate your offerings from your competitors.
If you want to make 2018 your most profitable and successful year yet, your business plan needs to start with researching and testing the latest technology and proactively incorporating it into your firm’s processes. Having a clearly defined IT strategy will keep your accounting firm’s finger on the pulse of the most efficient and profitable advancements and ensure that your business – and your clients – will come out ahead.
We're proud to present the Technology Strategy series in association with AbacusNext who share our commitment to helping firms adjust to the digital world as safely as possible. AbacusNext provides a suite of best of breed services to accountants including OfficeTools Practice Management, Results CRM, and Abacus Private Cloud.