It was only a few short years ago that accountants and bookkeepers heard of the Triple A (Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device) features of the cloud.
Accounting software and data no longer had to reside on static storage and in filing cabinets, and businesses and accounting professionals could collaborate within a single ledger. The accounting profession changed from being staid and conservative to being exciting and forward-thinking.
The developments in online accounting have not sated demand for technological change but increased it, especially in relation to Any Device, statistics suggest.
Savvy mobile entrepreneurs can save up to nine weeks a year through effective use of mobile devices, reported a study of 501 small business owners commissioned by Intuit. This study also found that 80 percent of business owners said they needed anywhere, anytime access to company data and 48 percent expected to be doing more business tasks on their mobile device in the next year.
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.
Businesses delivering goods and services to customers out in the field are also substantially benefiting 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.
Young entrepreneurs are the heaviest users of mobile technology, found the Intuit study, which makes sense as they have never known a world without mobile. They take a mobile solution as a given and expect to do in a personal environment what they do at work – there are no boundaries.
And the realm of mobile has seen some exciting developments. A couple of weeks ago Xero released the Android version of its Xero Touch mobile app. The Android app was modelled on the iOS version and included a revised bank reconciliation screen released in October for iOS. Xero has big plans in the pipeline for the iOS version including rebooted expense claim processing, with Android updates to follow.
In mid-February, MYOB announced the imminent release of its new MYOB PayDirect solution, a free mobile app for business owners and staff to take payments from customers, send receipts, manage invoicing and contacts with their smartphone, and integrated with AccountRight Live. The app is scheduled for a limited release this quarter and a general release next quarter.
Intuit too is committed to mobile but it has a different approach. It provides access to the full QBO software across all devices rather than providing function-specific apps. Reckon One will also be adopting that approach with the mobile version of its recently released online accounting software.
We can expect a lot more announcements on mobile solutions in the future as software suppliers race to deliver more innovations. 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!