A recent CPA2Biz survey of CPAs revealed their plans to increase use of cloud-based systems and services, despite high levels of concern over security and privacy.CPA2Biz, the marketing arm of the American Institute of CPAs’ products and services, recently completed the research, entitled the 2010 Cloud Computing Readiness Survey.

Of note was that 70 percent of the 1,100 CPAs who responded to the survey stated they believe use of cloud-based systems within their firm will increase over the next six to 18 months. At the same time, 62 percent remain “significantly concerned” over privacy and 73 percent were equally apprehensive about security in the cloud.

CPA2Biz president Erik Asgeirsson found the survey’s results to be “very positive and informative” and ultimately revealed a “maturity” in the market. “A few years ago [everyone was concerned about] the availability of the online systems and now there are many established best practices related to privacy and security for cloud-based service providers to follow — SAS 70 Type II audit, Web site security seal, privacy policy, etc.” said Asgeirsson. “We are out there now and talking to these firms. These are more sophisticated concerns. They want to know about management of the data when they select a cloud vendor and what’s the process. And if they switch [vendors, they] make sure up front there’s a plan in place. I think this is all good because you should be concerned, but the good news is with these services, if you pick the right provider they will all be addressed.”

Other key findings of the survey revealed CPAs’ views on the key benefits of using a cloud-based service over on-premise software. Specifically, 74 percent cited being able to work anywhere at anytime, 72 percent said being able to use the latest applications, 65 percent cited better disaster backup and recovery, and 62 percent said improved client service.

CPA2Biz conducted the online survey over the summer. It was sent to a cross-section of the overall membership, and 1,100 of 23,500 responded. The majority (41 percent) were firms with between two and 10 staff.

 This story originally appeared on the Accounting Today web site, webCPA.

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