[IMGCAP(1)]For accounting professionals and consultants alike, the past year has been filled with talk of the cloud, mobile and compliance and I daresay we're in for more of the same, but with a few additions to our regular vocabulary.
For one, I think we should start by saying that mobile is a term that may well merge with or eclipse that of "the cloud," because well...let's face it this is where the majority of daily business data will end up. To put it in brief, "the cloud" will be where most data will be and mobile is how you will access it, be it a phone, ultrabook, tablet or whetever the device du jour may be; it will in fact be mobile. As such, expect this year to be filled with announcements around your favorite -- and some new -- back office or accounting-related tools being optimized for mobility or more likely emerging in app form.
Don't expect cloud to go away, but from a marketing and media perspective you will simply hear more about applications going mobile than just "to the cloud." The cloud in fact is very big on a lot of minds, the AICPA and CPA2Biz in particular who are going to be making strong efforts to get practitioners to consider use of cloud products. It won't be just for the sake of getting with the times, but their new angle is about client service and where firms want to be in the next five to 10 years. To that end you have the likes of technology consultant Joe Woodard stating "if you choose not to embrace the cloud you are retiring in five years." Pretty strong words, Joe but he does make a point about thinking about change to your advantage.
Next on the agenda is big data. Some of you may still not know what that is or why it's important but rest assured, it will dominate the business application media much in the way "the cloud" and even mobile apps have in recent history. Many accounting professionals and consultants are already discovering tools that allow them to slice and dice business data to help their clients make better financial and overall business planning decisions, expect these tools to become more prevelant this year and very much going forward.
The term "big data" itself is already being bandied about by more traditionally small business-focused vendors including Intuit. In fact, CEO Brad Smith in a recent teleconference was touting a trend called "big data for the little guy." More specifically, he spoke of Intuit looking to take advantage of the data they already have access to and building products and services that help their core user base better utilize so-called big data.
Speaking of small business-focused vendors, it is apparent SAP is very interested in the SMB pie these days. Not that they haven't tried before, but they are making some pointed efforts of late to try to convince SMBs that they are not too big and too expensive. In late November the company kicked off a tour designed to showcase how some small businesses are utilzing SAP to run their businesses. Expect more news to come out around this effort in the coming weeks and months for certain.
Finally, there is some word that FreshBooks will have some more definitive plans to fill the role of accountant embassador left by Kasey Bayne when she departed for cloud accounting upstart Kashoo. Since her exit the task of facing with accountants was taken on by director of channel sales Gary Mirsky and CEO Mike McDerment. Expect to see more details on that in the coming weeks.
Happy New Year to all!