“Paperwork wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for all the paper. And the work,” one modern American novelist has joked.

The hassle of paperwork is one reason why cloud storage is seeing astonishing growth. The market is now worth more than $30 billion, according to estimates, and is expected to reach over $100 billion in less than five years. Within three years, more than 72% of the global organizations will have migrated to the Cloud.

The advantages aren’t just for big businesses running their own data centres, however. The benefits are also important for smaller firms for whom the efficiencies, security, and the productivity gains delivered by the cloud can be crucial to ensuring they survive and thrive. This is particularly true in the mortgage market, where small firms have to compete with larger brokerages and need to use technology to level the playing field.

For brokers, and others involved in the home buying process, paperwork plays a central role. With IDs, proofs of address, property information forms, EPCs, valuations, pay slips, bank statements, surveys, searches, and contracts, documents can quickly come to dominate and overwhelm the process. Lost paperwork and waiting for the post are key causes of delays. Manual processes to extract information and rekey it into internal system, meanwhile, bring a high risk of error.

Cost, convenience and control

There are three key benefits the cloud brings to the mortgage industry when it comes to storing and managing information.

The first is that centralising storage and providing secure access to documents significantly increases convenience for everyone involved. For example, Smartr365’s DocuStore means that brokers can quickly call up documents from the office, home or anywhere else. They can also easily share these and collaborate with clients, colleagues, estate agents, or protection specialists – all of them viewing the same documents and data, when and where they need them.

Customers, meanwhile, can view, access, and download documents they have to review or complete, and can upload these from home when convenient. The cloud significantly reduces the need for travel and meetings, and eliminates delays to the process caused by waiting for documents to be returned by post.

It also provides much greater visibility and control of the process – the second major advantage. Storing and automatically organising data online, cloud solutions make finding client information simple, fast and efficient. Once uploaded, nformation won’t be lost – it can be quickly and easily recovered when it’s needed.  Time spent rifling through papers for the right form can be turned to other tasks like advising clients,

These boosts to efficiency and productivity can be felt by brokers, agents and others in the course of their daily work, hour-by-hour, and sometimes minute-by-minute.

Finally, those benefits can be achieved with lower and more certain costs than most in-house storage solutions. The cloud is endlessly scalable, helping businesses of all sizes to grow: users will never run out of space and the costs of maintaining, updating and increasing capacity of the system are born by the cloud service provider. That also means information never has to be deleted just to make space – when a client wants to remortgage years later the broker can quickly recall their file can with a few simple clicks.

Security and suitability

Despite the obvious benefits the cloud brings, some are still reluctant to adopt it. In the main, this is due to concerns around security or suitability.

It is right that the former should be a key concern. Much of the data brokers store is sensitive, and due diligence before entrusting this to a third party or sharing with others is essential. However, a good service from a legitimate cloud service provider will provide a fully compliant solution supported by much greater investment in security than most brokers could reasonably be expected to make. It also brings increased resilience for the business itself, with data automatically backed up and stored offsite as a safeguard against hardware failures and fires, flood or theft onsite.

Concerns over suitability are, likewise, legitimate, but – provided the right solution is chosen – ultimately misplaced. The rapid rise of cloud technologies has seen a proliferation of services, with the majority aimed at consumers or a general business market. These can and often do lack the tools brokers need to make the most of opportunities, or, worse, are slow to operate, actually undermining efficiency compared to no-site solutions.

That cloud boom has also seen a wide variety of systems developed, however, including bespoke mortgage solutions such as Smartr365’s – designed by mortgage brokers, for mortgage brokers. These are solutions that can take care of the not just the paper, but also much of the work – leaving brokers time to focus on the people and relationships that ensure their continued success.