Brian Kinion, VP of Finance at SuccessFactors, took time to talk about why cloud computing and how it has impacted his business. SuccessFactors, an SAP Company, is the leading provider of cloud-based business execution software.

What does the cloud mean to you?

Cloud computingWhat it means to me is being able to get the right data at the right time to the right people. The cloud allows you to conduct your business anytime and anywhere, like setting up and aligning your goals, conducting your performance reviews, etc. You can use a mobile device, tablet, or whatever you need.

While being mobile is big for me, I also love how you can run your business much more efficiently with the cloud. You don’t need a bunch of employees working on the back-end to make these systems operate.

Before I worked at SuccessFactors, I had little interaction with the cloud in my previous jobs. Now, I only need the IT group for a few things; and we can basically manage and administer the systems in finance ourselves.

So it really is about the total cost of ownership. You can drive down expenses and be much more efficient by configuring your systems when you want it and the way you want it.

Furthermore, you can watch the rapid innovation of cloud based vendors and drive this innovation to your needs because they deliver functionality improvements much more rapidly than anything in-house or in on-premise systems.

How has the cloud affected your work personally?

Personally, it has made me much more efficient in my job. Twenty years ago, I had to come to the office to work. Now, I don’t need go into the office; I can be anywhere! I can work using my phone, traveling on an airplane, or hanging out by the beach. I take my job wherever I go. While e-mail is accessible everywhere, so are cloud based products. I can do an expense report in no time. I just snap a shot of my expenses, save it, get back to the office, and put it in my report. Just like that, I’m done, and I get reimbursed. It’s that easy!

What cloud based solutions do you value?

I really believe in SAP Financials OnDemand because everybody should have their own dashboard to manage their tasks, self-serve on reports that are relevant to them and be able collaborate with others.

You don’t want to operate in a black box; you want to have a transparent workspace where you can contribute to a team and influence projects quickly. And that’s what we get with cloud: through your dashboard and the reports and KPI’s, you can see what needs to be done and cover your teammates if they’re sick or behind in their work as well as see if there are issues that need to be addressed immediately in the business. The transparency provided by these tools is what I see as cloud.

I also love how all these tools can be well integrated. You can go buy different systems and integrate them together, so that you get one master source of information without worrying about whether or not your team’s files are synced. You get that kind of convenience with the cloud, and you make your operations more efficient. You just have to be cognizant of maintaining your integration tools.

What does the future hold for the cloud?

Today, cloud is a new thing. There are so many cloud based applications coming out, both social and cloud are adopting fast and innovating fast. Will that be the case in 20 years? Possibly, but I don’t know what it will be. What’s exciting about these times is the rapid pace of new technologies and attempting to keep up with them.

This post originally appeared on the SAP Community Network and is reprinted here with permission.