It was only a few short years ago that accountants and bookkeepers were on the cusp of an exciting new development as early adopters started to take advantage of the Triple A (Anywhere, Any time, Any Device) features of the cloud. Accounting software and data no longer had to reside on static storage and in filing cabinets and there was the opportunity for businesses and accounting professionals to collaborate within a single ledger. The Accounting profession changed from being staid and conservative to being exciting and forward-thinking.
However the features and flexibility delivered by cloud accounting have not sated demand but increased it especially in relation to Any Device, and the statistics confirm this. Last week at the Xero Roadshow in Australia, Chris Ridd, Managing Director of Xero in Australia gave us statistics from research organisation Forrester; which showed that Australia is the second most cloud ready country in the world with cloud spending set to increase by 300% in 2014.
Cloud software company, Intuit looking to confirm its mobile investment, recently commissioned a study into the mobile habits of businesses in Australia and based on responses from 501 small business owners, showed how savvy mobile entrepreneurs can save up to nine weeks a year through effective use of mobile devices. This study also found that 80% of business owners said they needed anywhere, anytime access to company data and 48% expect to be doing more business tasks on their mobile device in the next year. The results of this study have been published in an e-book available for download.
And it is in the realm of mobile that we have seen some exciting developments recently
A couple of weeks ago Xero released the Android version of its Xero Touch mobile app (available for download from Google Play), This version is based on the original iOS version but with a design more suited to Android interfaces so users have a similar experience across all Android apps. The Android version also included the revised bank reconciliation screen released in October for iOS bringing the two into greater alignment. Xero has big plans in the pipeline for the iOS version including rebooted expense claim processing with the Android versions a bit later.
In mid February, MYOB announced the imminent release of its new MYOB PayDirect solution – a free mobile app that will enable business owners and staff to take payments from customers, send receipts, manage invoicing and contacts and then integrate this into AccountRightLive all from the comfort of the smartphone. This is scheduled for a limited release this quarter and a general release next quarter 2014 in Australia
Intuit too is committed to providing a mobile solution but it has a different approach. It provides access to the full QBO software across all devices rather than providing function specific apps so there is a consistent user experience regardless of the device. Reckon One will also be adopting that approach with the mobile version of its recently released cloud accounting software.
The Intuit study specifically demonstrated that it is the young entrepreneurs or YoungPreneurs as they term them, that are the heaviest users of mobile technology, which makes sense as they never knew a world without mobile or when you had to ‘go into the office’. They take a mobile solution as a given and what they can do in a personal environment, they expect to do in a work environment – there are no boundaries. There is a clear upwards trend in mobile usage from Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y across every function that was tracked in the study – a clear indication to accounting software providers that a mobile solution is not an option, it is a necessity, it is the new norm.
In addition to age-related segments in the marketplace, businesses delivering goods and services to customers out in the field are also substantially benefitting from mobile solutions. They can invoice and receive payment, check customer balances, update contact details while on site and this is automatically updated into the accounting software. In business terms this improves cash flow and the bottom line and reduces the administration overheads associated with customer management and thus enables the business to be more responsive to customers
We can probably expect a lot more announcements on mobile solutions and mobile apps in the future as software suppliers race to deliver to keep abreast of innovations in demand. Ten years ago, I would not have expected to be able to do my business bank rec on my mobile phone, so I am ready for more surprises (even though I am a baby boomer!)