For those waiting for the Year of the Internet, don't look now, but it's passed you by.

Of course, not all businesses have leapt onto the Web. It's still not the predominant way of accessing applications, especially in the area of accounting software.

No, the year 2005 reflected the acceptance of the Web, not its adoption en masse in public accounting. It showed the realization that the hype of the dot-com days is behind us and that legitimate uses are being recognized by businesses that were skittish or cynical about the Internet.

Among accounting firms, this acceptance has occurred first among the multi-office organizations.

What is driving this is a convergence of needs for collaboration, remote access, and document management. Obviously, one of the main things accounting and tax professionals do is work with documents. Internet technology makes it possible to share them across offices and other remote locations, such as homes. Smart firms have also realized that snowed-in employees can still process tax returns if their Internet connections are up, or that part-timers can work at home, or employees who have moved away, can still be used remotely

Familiarity with a process helps people adjust to new developments. Many believe that Microsoft's inclusion of solitaire card games with Windows trained a generation in the use of mice. Likewise, the availability of common documents on the Internet is preparing professionals for its wider use. Increased comfort with document management online will lead to comfort with other uses.

In fact, resistance to online accounting is largely a matter of comfort, a matter of culture. The same people who say they don't trust online accounting don't think twice about whether their bank accounts will be hacked. They are the same peopel or who phone or fax their payroll numbers to a service bureau. After all, money is largely data these days.

In the language of pop statistics, we are not at the tipping point, nor are we at the fat part of the bell curve in terms of adoption of Internet applications in the public accounting arena.

But we are starting up the steep leg of the curve. And from there, things escalate quickly.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access