We take technology for granted

I gave an online demonstration to a potential new client the other day of e-conomic our preferred online accounting system. As well as the client, one of my partners from another office was also joining in on the conference.

I used a piece of software called GotoMeeting which enabled all of us to join in on a conference call and allowing the other two parties to view my PC Screen whilst I was going through the software.

This is not new technology – it has been around for a long time. But I wonder if anyone stops and thinks just how clever it all is. Computers, the internet, smartphones etc have become such a major part of our life that the sheer brilliance of it all tends to get overlooked and we just take the whole thing for granted.

It has often been said the the computing power in a modern iphone greatly exceeds that used in the Apollo 11 moon landings – incredible to think what can be achieved and I wonder if we look back on this era in a few years time what will be the state of art technology at the the time which we will also be taking for granted.

It never ceases to amaze me!

Easycounting – goodbye dear friend, you have served me well

At the commencement of the millenium (doesn’t that seem a long time ago!),my practice handled a large number of IT contractors who were notoriously poor in sending in their accounting information. We looked at a number of different ways to facilitate this process, when one of our clients suggested using the Internet…and Easycounting was born.

During its development, it soon became obvious that the concept had a much wider application than just the contracting market and the full SME version soon followed. Users would be able to enter their data in a simple fashion, no bookkeeping experience was required, and would see the vital elements important to their business.

We, as the accountant, would be responsible for providing the financial accounting information by way of regular management accounts prepared from the information submitted by the client, and our Cloud application was born (although the Cloud terminology had not yet been invented. A colleague referred to this as "thin client" which I suppose it is – funny how that sounds outdated now.)

In many ways our biggest disadvantage was that Easycounting was a great concept but ahead of its time. Hard to believe now, but the Internet was still very much in its infancy..broadband was a rarity and business applications were still very much a novelty.

To the technophiles, the concept was a no brainer – to the vast majority of the accounting community it was a concept that they could not understand. Sage was ubiqutous and prevailed in the market place and even though some admitted to having to store 6 versions of the software on the servers to deal with the different versions used by clients, they were prepared to put up with the limitations because anything new and innovative was a step too far.

We had some notable successes and won some major clients who were impressed by the concept and that we, as accountants, were innovative and willing to work with new technology. But selling the concept to the accounting profession proved to bee too hard a task and we restricted Easycounting to internal use where it became the mainstay of London outsourcing department, used by 95% of our clients who were more than happy with the flexibility that internet accounting provided.

So…10 years later has anything changed. On the surface not much…Sage still prevails, the accountancy profession as a whole, is still slow to innovate and experiment with new ideas. However, like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, there is much happening beneath the surface.

The Cloud and its acceptance is growing exponentially…..the concept is rapidly becoming mainstream and whilst the accountancy profession still lags behind the rest the world, the clients are willing, and in some cases insisting that the internet is the way they want to go. There are now some 40 different Saas applications (more new terminolgy) on the market and their take up is growing year on year. I am convinced that in the next two to three years, the Cloud will be the norm and we will look back and think how quaint it was when software was restricted to the PC on which it resided.

As for Easycounting… well after 10 years its time, like a thoroughbred race horse, to put it out to stud and let it retire in peace. Technology has moved on and Internet Accounting has become more sophisticated. Internally we have decided that e-conomic is a worthy successor and we are in the process of transferring all of our Easycounting clients.

As for the Cloud..like King Canute trying to stop the incoming tide, and with apologigies to Doctor Who, resistance is futile.

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