The cloud system is certainly having a heyday in recent months as all organisations are looking for quick and efficient ways to add value and adapt to new, remote ways of working.\r\nThis is so much the case, in fact, that\u00a0Gartner\u00a0recently reported that financial leaders continuing to invest in digital transformation were 1.4x more likely to have an advantage over those that didn\u2019t, coming out of the COVID-crisis. Now that we\u2019ve hopefully come through the initial panic and lockdown phases of COVID-19, the pressure is on for senior management teams to continue the digital transformation to enable new ways of working.\r\nAs much of the global workforce continues to work remotely, businesses are now settling into the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 fallout.\u00a0McKinsey\u00a0has outlined five stages of COVID-recovery, which I\u2019ve\u00a0written about\u00a0previously. We\u2019ve now come through the first two stages \u2013 resolve and resilience \u2013 and are moving (albeit at different paces) through to return, reimagination and reform. How businesses approach these final three stages will be critical for setting up for resilient, sustainable, long-term success.\r\nResilience will require continued investment into cloud platforms that boost flexibility, connection and accountability for everyone within a business.\r\nAs we see companies coming through COVID-19, we\u2019ve started to see innovation in ways we hadn\u2019t imagined.\u00a0Canalys\u00a0recently reported that spending on cloud solutions hit an all-time record high in Q1 \u2013 up 34% to a total of $31bn (\u00a324.7bn) \u2013\u00a0despite\u00a0businesses halting a large proportion of their IT investment in light of COVID-19. No longer are companies relying on outdated solutions, but rather they\u2019re looking at how they can better decentralise information and processes across departments to drive efficiency and results.\u00a0In order to achieve the rapid innovation to current practices\u00a0required by a crisis as well as those\u00a0dramatic, long-term results, the cloud holds the key.\r\nAccording to research from\u00a0Morgan Stanley, a shocking minority of workloads are currently on the cloud (20%) \u2013 which is at stark odds considering that finance teams are hoping that by the end of next year, we\u2019ll be over double that (44%). So how do we get there?\r\nThe solution lies within cloud integration \u2013 specifically connected reporting solutions designed to\u00a0create efficiencies and transparencies in complex business and reporting processes.\r\nConnected reporting platforms like ours will be the next in the evolution of legacy technologies. If we look at the tech that has been so critical to powering connectivity during the pandemic \u2013 such as cloud, 5G, and WiFi more generally \u2013 they\u2019ve really revolutionised the way people interact, whether that\u2019s within or across businesses. While many have integrated\u00a0some\u00a0cloud functions, this has often been limited to particular use cases as opposed to across entire businesses.\r\nWe need to think bigger.\u00a0The cloud is often thought of as a place to store data or files, something the pandemic has really forced companies to rethink. The cloud is also somewhere to work, have meetings, produce collaborative documents (like this one), and manage control and changes connecting that cloud stored data directly with the final reports and presentations.\r\nConnecting \u2013 with co-workers, with customers, and with other external stakeholders \u2013 has become increasingly vital during the pandemic, which has forced people to work out better ways of operating across businesses, locations and time zones. Management teams looking to implement smart solutions across departments should start by addressing a few questions:\u00a0How will this support the ways we work? What isn\u2019t working? How do we fix that? Once those questions have been answered, teams will be better able to implement cloud technologies to best address company pain points quickly and efficiently, to circumvent any underinvestment or neglect of other IT systems or solutions.\r\nPlatform solutions \u2013 particularly across financial functions \u2013 have been a game changer for those looking for holistic business solutions, as they provide a set framework that can be customised to reporting, regulatory, or operational needs, and allow for simultaneous collaboration while implementing controlled changes for accountability.\r\nThe cloud means businesses and their employees can move faster, work smarter and be more targeted and agile in workflows. When something needs to change quickly, the data is there, the people\u00a0are there and\u00a0the platform is easy to customise.\r\nCovid-19 hasn\u2019t just\u00a0pointed out where IT can streamline, it\u2019s also highlighted where other departments can work better together to create smoother workflow processes that will add value as businesses start to emerge from lockdown, and improve the return on technological investment sooner rather than later. Investing in solutions that empower employees to remain agile and resilient will be key to setting up for future success.