Mar 2012

Treasury in the Cloud


Ein Beitrag von Martin Bellin in "Der Treasurer"

Cloud computing is predicted to become a billion dollar market. From a treasury perspective, does the cloud really have potential, or is it nothing but an airy idea?

One of the essential reasons for the assumed success of the “cloud” is the outsourcing of IT services. Capacities are freed, investments can be reduced and budgets for everyday business become more flexible. A higher IT efficiency due to cloud computing has been predicted especially for medium-sized businesses. Even more importantly, however, it might help companies optimize their internal processes. The most important features:

  • Data is available on all mobile devices – all information is at your fingertips, anywhere.
  • Due to data sharing, the involved applications contain information from many parts of the company. Employees, departments and group companies feed the data pool with information on their own processes and simultaneously make use of data from the other parties. Global access can offer a genuine advantage, especially for decentralized collaboration.
  • Data no longer needs to be distributed throughout the group. The flood of messages via e-mail, phone or fax no longer needs to be processed. The cloud contains all information, which can be retrieved and used as needed. The efficient distribution of data also solves the problem of double accounting.
  • The data stored in the cloud is always up to date and available in real time. The loss of information due to delays becomes an issue of the past.
  • The architecture of cloud-capable applications greatly simplifies the deployment of applications within the group. The local installation of software on workstations completely contradicts the concept of free access.
  • Additionally, the costs of maintaining server farms can be reduced. People-intensive support capacities - especially for specialized applications - are no longer needed.

However, wherever there is light, there is shadow also. There are reasons why cloud computing is slow in gaining acceptance. Outsourcing the storage of internal data to third parties is very difficult for owner-run companies. Some of their misgivings are definitely well founded.

In order to solve the problem, the cloud concept was split into a “public” cloud (user-independent provision), the “private” cloud (user-related provision) and a “hybrid” cloud (a combination of both models). In addition to security concerns, the automated connection or even complete integration of cloud computing into a group's data streams and network is not impossible, but nevertheless very complex. Last but not least, the software needs to support the cloud. Conventional software models that need to be installed on a PC do not work with the new concept.

On the Way to Globalization

What relevance does the cloud have for treasury? Treasury departments are on the way to globalization. Therefore, the treasury workstation has served its purpose and will be replaced by a global network. The advantages of cloud computing enables a quantum leap in data management and compliance. Global information becomes available in real time. Since employees no longer need to collect data, capacities are freed that can be invested in higher quality work. A complete record of all processes as well as the work distribution in the front and back offices can be represented across all organizational and regional boundaries.

This reorganization makes it possible to replace reporting with process assistance. The report sent to others becomes the respective unit’s basis for information. In turn, this leads to much more precise and reliable data. While the establishment of a „Payment Factory“ or an „In-house Bank“ was often reserved for the big players, it is now easily possible for medium-sized businesses, because communication and information are distributed. Actually, these results are exactly the advantages expected from cloud computing. Its technical advantages round out the picture, especially with regard to the treasury, whose applications are a special case in the overall context of the company. The challenges of electronic banking, in particular, can become a problem for the in-house IT in time-critical support cases. Outsourcing expertise therefore makes sense from a technical perspective.

All in all, the “cloud in the treasury” is not only a new technology, but also the basis for a reorganization of treasury processes. Although the concept is not new fundamentally, it now receives the attention that it needs to gain widespread adoption. Lastly, the renewed discussion of the topic becomes a catalyst to bring the internationalization of the enterprise to the treasury – as is right and due.