How is the Cloud Impacting Accounting Practice? : A Case Study on Provider & User Perspectives of Accounting Software-as-a-Service Partnerships in Sweden

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Fakulteten för ekonomi, kommunikation och IT

Abstract: Motivation. The motivation for this thesis is to explore the only recently evolved cloud accounting phenomenon which in essence is doing accounting no longer within the boundaries of a business, but connected to the Cloud. Problem statement. The aim of this thesis is to examine the way in which cloud computing impacts accounting practice. Few previous studies have been conducted so businesses have not been able to understand the cloud accounting phenomenon thoroughly, preventing businesses from adopting their business models on the basis of the Cloud. This means that businesses have potentially missed out on opportunities for competitive advantages and growth. The purpose of this thesis is to understand the cloud accounting phenomenon in an in-depth manner. Approach. This thesis can be classified as empirical positive qualitative research and empirical quantitative case study which uses an explanatory and exploratory research approach. The case study was conducted in in-depth interviews and the extent of this work encompasses primarily the Swedish accounting environment. It consists of six cloud accounting users and two cloud accounting provider. Results. This study contributes four main findings to the existing field of research. Firstly, the initial adoption decision and acceptance of cloud accounting Software-as-a-Service is based on the perceived usefulness that the Cloud enhances the accounting process in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The usage decision is voluntary to obtain a better image and status. Secondly, trust was identified as a central component within the relationship between user and provider in cloud accounting service partnerships. Thirdly, the Cloud brings the possibility not only for accountants, but for the entire business to access an unlimited amount of resources. Users can become easily dependant on a provider if they perceive the service as a crucial asset for their business. The dilemma between the trade-off between autonomy and certainty occurs. Users are aware that they need to give up their right for self-government for the benefit of attaining a cloud service, and expressed concerns in respect to privacy and security, implementation issues, legal requirements, and increased costs. Moreover, users fear that they become dependant and locked in with a cloud accounting provider. Fourthly, the Cloud brings the possibility to access an unlimited amount of resources not only for accountants, but for the whole business. Cloud providers offer their service to a broad customer base which means that the structures in different businesses may possibly become more similar.

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