Jon Baron, president of professional software and services at Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting business, showed a prototype of some iPhone applications that the company is preparing.
At the companys user conference in Orlando, Fla., he demonstrated how accounting firms will be able to use smart phones such as the iPhone one day to access the companys Practice CS software and see the status of a staff member or client. They will be able to view which projects a staff member is assigned to, and a record of prior contacts with a particular client, including a link to Google Maps showing the client's address.
Baron emphasized that accounting firms need to become more forward-thinking and technologically advanced in order to survive. Change is accelerating, he said at a keynote address on Thursday morning. The pace of change is absolutely unbelievable and we have to embrace it.
Later in the day, Baron told me that there is no specific release date scheduled
yet for the iPhone app. He also said that mobile access would be
available for other types of smart phones such as the RIM BlackBerry
and perhaps Google Android phones.
During the speech, he talked about how the company is placing more emphasis on Web-based applications using the Software as a Service model. Those include client portals, document management systems, payroll systems such as Service Bureau Payroll CS, and a Virtual Client Office where clients can get access to Microsoft Office applications.
The company is also adding digital money features such as automated clearing house, credit card processing and online bill payment to some of its products to allow clients to pay for accounting services over the Web.
The goal of the company over the next decade, Baron said, was to make its software smarter, such as automatically matching a clients work and data with the appropriate staff member at a firm based on their experience level.
Baron hopes to transition from optical character recognition technology when scanning in 1099 and W-2 forms, to bar coding and eventually Web services to further automate processes. The company is promising many more innovations to come as it looks to help build more firms of the future.