Since its founding in 1999, Salesforce.com has played a key role in shaping the current era of cloud computing. That helps explain why tens of thousands of cloud technology professionals, corporate executives and tax technologists (including this one), along with a few rock stars, attend the company’s annual “Dreamforce” event each year. As attendees, we want to find out as much as we can about the future of cloud computing and what these changes mean for our customers (in my case, that means tax professionals, finance and IT staff) and colleagues.
This year’s event featured a varied slate of presenters – ranging (widely) from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Golden State Warriors President and COO Rick Welts to Goldie Hawn to the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, among many others. Beyond the glitz and glamour of the entertainment, the three themes I gleaned from this year’s Dreamforce centered squarely on the evolution of cloud computing:
Theme 1: Widespread Cloud Acceptance—It was clear throughout the presentations that the notion and practice of running business applications in the cloud has achieved widespread acceptance across nearly all industries and corporate functions. This acceptance, of course, includes the tax function.
Theme 2: Cloud Apps are A-Changin’—This is good news for buyers of cloud applications, and three of these changes in particular are noteworthy. First, cloud vendors are developing more ways to enable customers to configure screens and other facets of these tools to meet their unique needs. Second, cloud vendors (or, to use a phrase used frequently at the event: “ecosystem partners”) are working with each other in a more collaborative manner. And, third, many cloud vendors are integrating more operational data into their solutions, which give users a broader look at the entire enterprise even if they’re spending most of their time in a sales, finance, HR or tax cloud application.
Theme 3: Data Management Matters—Cloud vendors continue to introduce more powerful data-analytics functionality to their offerings. This is great news – for all cloud-technology users, including tax—so long as vendors and users work together to get data management correct. This point is crucial, and it cropped up frequently in my offline conference discussions. Cloud applications offer increasingly valuable results and ROI, but only if they are fueled by the right data and only if that data is appropriately managed.
That may not be the most glamorous message, but it ranks among the most important for tax managers to keep in mind when they’re considering tax technology investments.
Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.