Sunday, January 20, 2013

The sunny side of cloud-based AP

Having your “head in the clouds” means different things to different people. If you’re managing the finance department within your organization, having your head in the cloud is the smart way to go. Once considered a luxury, cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) for workflow automation and invoice processing is now a necessity in a world of uncertain revenues and controlled costs.
The fact that SAP recently acquired SaaS provider Ariba for $4.3B should tell you all you need to know about the importance of cloud accounting for the future. Gartner forecasts that spending on cloud computing will increase at a rate of 19% compared to the total spending on IT, which is predicted to rise just 3%. As far as the growth in spending for cloud-based SaaS, Gartner expects that to grow from an estimated $12.1B in 2013 to $21.3B in 2015.
So what are the conditions that are making smart CFO’s and Finance Managers who haven’t already done so, put cloud-based automationcloud accounting software at the top of their wish list?

A paper-free environment is not the only endgame.
Moving into automated financial processing definitely has a paper-elimination advantage, to be sure. The problems that may arise from paper pileups and lost or misplaced invoices, and the efficiencies realized from accounts payable automation can’t be overstated; but the silver lining in the cloud is its value as a business information and cash management tool. One of the truly major transformation companies are experiencing is the changing role of accounts payable, from a transactional back office cost center to a strategic position within the organization.  AP automation solutions enable this transformation by providing access to real-time data, and thus the insights necessary for procurement and treasury to effectively manage cash flow. Invoice Automation allows AP to:
  • Increase invoice processing speeds with streamlined workflows
  • Gain higher accuracy and faster access to data by removing touch points in the payables process
  • Eliminate late payments and take advantage of early-payment discounts with automated invoice approval workflows and payment disbursements
  • Enhance visibility at the click of a mouse for accurate reporting, better cash flow management, and improved supplier relationships
  • Improve supplier relationships through a seamless exchange of transaction-related information and payments.
Automation is a clear advantage, but why in the cloud?
New infrastructure, new software, and additional personnel are investments few companies are able, or willing, to undertake. Using a cloud-based SaaS provider means that companies only need a computer and internet access to run the application software, so there is no need to purchase hardware or software, make new hires, or pay the high cost of ongoing upgrades and training. Cloud automation has the advantages of:
·    Low upfront costs
·    Fast deployment and flexibility
·    Minimal IT commitment
·    Access to data, anytime…anywhere
·    Rapid adoption and easy ERP integration
·    Automatic backup
·    Continuous software updates and upgrades

When real storm clouds appear, cloud-based AP software is essential
It’s no secret that storms are becoming more frequent and more treacherous, and that companies need to have a disaster recovery (DR) plan for all eventualities; but having multiple off-site servers, the personnel ready to implement emergency backups, and additional redundancies may not be feasible or optimal. Data stored in the cloud exists on the servers of service providers, who have their own system of servers at a variety of locations, constantly backing up data. Companies that have lost the ability to operate out of a brick-and-mortar facility can still access the necessary data through the cloud accounting system using their laptops, smartphones or tablets.

It’s clear that AP’s the future of Accounts Payable is in the clouds, and the future looks pretty bright…and definitely sunny. Have you transitioned into the cloud for your AP functions? If not, why not?. If so, let us know your experiences.

For more than 15 years, Corcentric’s cloud-based financial process automation solutions have revolutionized how the world’s largest organizations manage and protect their financial assets. By connecting best practices with deep expertise, Corcentric’s ground-breaking Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable automation solutions have enabled organizations to reduce costs, streamline processes, and provide unmatched visibility executives need to make critical business decisions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Java Patch from Oracle: Close, but No Cigar

When Java technology came on the scene, it revolutionized the online experience. Web surfers came to expect more and more interactive websites and features from the companies they frequented online. It changed the ways companies do business, as well as their marketing strategies.
Yes, Java was quite the phenomenon, but it’s always had one major downfall. Designing security for the technology that actually works has been nothing short of a nightmare. It would seem, in fact, that a reliable security patch is a Java programmer’s elusive unicorn.

Security Woes
OS and browser developers are constantly trying out new technology to make your PC and devices as secure as possible. The latest inventions are more secure than ever before. However, much to the bane of Microsoft and other developers, even their ironclad security measures are meaningless if the PC user makes one ill-fated visit to a site with a Java plug-in.
Lack of security can be problematic for anyone, but particularly for businesses. The last thing a company needs is for a hacker to gain access to their bid management software or accounting programs. As rigid as modern firewalls and security features are, all a company user has to do is run Java and it’s all for naught.

Attempting to Address the Problem
In fairness, it’s not entirely Java’s fault that security has become such a large issue. It’s almost as if the cure has helped to exacerbate the problem. With more sophisticated operating systems and browsers, hackers have been forced to look for the weakest points of a computer in order to gain access. Poor hackers, right?
In any event, Java certainly didn’t ask for all of this new attention. Even so, the fact remains that it’s a major problem. A recent patch released by Oracle helped to stave off a new Amazon email hack campaign, but it hasn’t been completely effective.  Sometimes this can be as difficult as finding the exact 1988 Mustang parts you need for your car.
Oracle typically releases updates on a four-month schedule to try to stay on top of security threats. Perhaps they should consider making that a monthly schedule instead. It seems they’re always right on the pinnacle of developing a secure plug-in, but then the lull updates allows hackers time to discover the vulnerabilities.

Does it Really Matter?
The word on the street is that Java may eventually become obsolete anyway. If this is true, then you can’t blame a company for not wanting to invest money in a product they may eventually lose. On the other hand, if Java could just get a hold of their security problems, perhaps the call to find an acceptable alternative for online interaction wouldn’t have come about in the first place.
What is certain is that Internet users should be extremely cautious when using anything related to Java. Outdated versions are the most vulnerable, but installing updates can also be detrimental if a hacker has access to it. Your best bet is to either uninstall Java altogether or make extensive backups of your data before performing any updates. 

My friend Michelle  is a Content Specialist and Blogger with a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.

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