Article submitted by IVDesk
The tech business, in its many forms, is the best industry at eating its’ young; it is true creative destruction. This has been true since the existence of tech and will always be a part of its present and future. Virtualization of IT is the next wave of technology that is making its way into the mainstream of businesses. It is the culmination of a number of technologies being brought together by young, nimble and small businesses for the benefit of many small, medium and large business and organizations.
It goes without saying, but a number of vertical markets will be upended by virtualization in the coming years. When we speak of virtualization, we mean virtualizing the complete infrastructure and environment of a firm within a vertical market (in this case CPA/Accounting firms). With mature technologies; apps, hardware, OS software, virtualization software and networking, the virtualization of market segments will continue to proliferate and IT will become the equivalent of the electrical outlet and electricity; always on, always there and a reliable service.
Road blocks that will impede the growth of virtualization will be managed service providers (MSP’s) and software application companies. MSP’s will continue to market and sell SMB’s CapEx financed equipment and doing things the “old way” to feed an old and tired business model. While progressive, smart and leading edge MSP’s are diversifying their product/services mix and building their monthly recurring revenue, other MSP’s just continue to perpetuate the risky and unproductive on-premise IT environment. This is unfortunate for a number of CPA/Accounting firms because they are going lag behind their peers from a growth perspective and in the end will start to lose business because of their inabilities on mobility and time.
The second impediment to virtualization of SMB IT infrastructures is sofware application providers cloud implementations of their vertical software. Software companies will sell their cloud version as the “new” greatest development for a CPA/Accounting firm and also will discourage a CPA/Accounting firm from moving to a virtualized environment primarily because they do not understand the many benefits virtualization can bring, whether it is the on-premise or cloud version. However, the truth of the matter is that the cloud version of their software is actually a new 1.0 of the on-premise product. Many unsuspecting CPA/Accounting firms will end up being their (software application providers) beta sites and will see that most or all of your business processes are broken and have to be re-created from scratch. Thus, the beauty and simplicity of virtualization ensures business process is kept in tact for the long term benefit of the customer.
But don’t get us wrong, the virtualization movement needs progressive MSP’s and software application providers for the future of the CPA/Accounting vertical market. But it is healthy for the vertical market that all entities understand the pro’s and con’s of what is good for the end user (the CPA/Accounting firm) and both MSP’s and software application providers are key cogs going forward in this vertical.
Advantages of Virtualization
There are extreme advantages for CPA/Accounting firms to virtualize their IT and with regard to making IT an electrical plug-in/outlet. The three main advantages are 1) confidentiality and cybersecurity, 2) growth, both organic and through M&A and 3) culture change. All three are important in today’s work anywhere, on any device, any time business environment and can be strategic advantages for any CPA/Accounting firm. Below is a short discusion of all three:
- Confidentiality and Cybersecurity -- Handling and storing confidential individual and business data is getting more challenging by the day. A virtualized environment keeps data in one location and one location only. This greatly increases the cybersecurity framework of a firm and also secures data so that it is hard or even impossible to steal or download.
- Growth -- While virtualizing your IT doesn’t sound like a growth initiative, it is a powerful energizer to the growth of a CPA/Accounting firm. Companies that virtualizes their entire IT environment have huge advantages over their peers because the partners now have a great amount of time to prospect and obtain new clients. Furthermore, the ability to acquire is now super easy. Meaning, to acquire a 4 person or a 40 person firm is now seamless and simple because virtualization makes the IT transition a virtual snap (no pun intended) and can be done in days, not weeks or months.
- Culture Change -- Firms that virtualize realize quite quickly that the anytime, anywhere abilities of their employees gives them freedoms that they previously could not exploit. CPA/Accounting firms can now easily employ work from home or any location with regard to its employee base. Thus, the virtualized firm has a huge advantage in hiring the “A” players in the market because of work flexibility and the ability to work on the user’s platform of choice (PC, Mac, Surface, iPad, etc.).
No matter what vendor CPA/Accounting firms choose to virtualize their IT environment, they should demand one thing, go with a supplier that will virtualize the entire environment and not a portion of it. The benefits from a complete approach are astounding from a risk and growth perspective. From medical to financial services to legal business entities, virtualization is having such a positive effect that is a shame that more of these entities get clouded guidance from their internal IT staff, MSP’s, software application providers or other trusted advisors. We at IVDesk, in conjunction with our competitors, are here to tell the world that there is a better way. The livelihood of your firm will benefit greatly from a complete virtualization of your environment and infrastructure.