06 Jun

How Can Blockchain Disrupt the UK Accounting Industry?

(image credit: Pixabay)

Blockchain will completely overhaul the UK’s accounting industry. The ICAEW described blockchain as “fundamentally an accounting technology”, due to the secure and transparent type of transactions. Blockchain can effectively streamline bookkeeping procedures and keep much more accurate records. With blockchain slowly being introduced into different financial markets, we look at how it will disrupt accountancy in the UK.

Streamlining accounting operations

UK head of audit at Ernst & Young Hywel Ball notes the possible disruptions that blockchain will have on internal finance functions.

“Accountants do a lot of transaction processing, reconciliation and control, and that could change significantly if this technology gets adopted on a widespread basis,” said Ball. “The cost savings that the banks are looking at are huge, and most of that saving is people who do the back office, so whether you view those as accountants or ledgers, there’s a degree of challenge to those in the accounting profession who work in finance functions.”

The most obvious place that blockchain will improve is auditing. Internal blockchain systems can effectively log transactions and disseminate the information to different parties. Transactions will be error free because both parties will be able to check them before agreeing to sign anything.

Blockchain in disrupting the status quo of accounting processes

Blockchain is a timely technology that can help accounting firms become more transparent and reduce the chance of errors. This could potentially reduce cases like the Carillion Scandal from happening again. With the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell stating that his party will be commissioning a review into the entire auditing and accounting scheme in the UK, it is likely that blockchain will be looked at as a way to provide more transparency. Using blockchain accounting firms wouldn’t be able find loopholes in a “regulatory maze [that] allows obfuscation and buck-passing”.

Limitations in disruption

While blockchains will provide more secure and transparent transactions, it is not a full proof system. FXCM in their feature on the limitations of blockchain argues that the technology can come with costs. One limitation that particularly applies to accountancy is the throughput challenges. While secure, blockchain is much slower at processing transactions. FXCM point to the fact that in 2016, blockchain required 45 minutes to process transactions compared to Visa’s network which could process more than 50,000 per second.

Another limitation is the “51% attack” that is yet to be addressed by blockchain developers. Simply put, the 51% attack is a problem for accountancy firms because it can mess up their customers’ data if an outside influence decides to spread lies on a network. If the majority of data (ergo, the term 51%) states that the false information stored within the blockchain is correct, then, that eventually becomes the truth. Regulatory bodies need to be careful with this attack as it can prevent the positive disruptions of blockchain.

Blockchain adoption

Blockchain is extremely efficient in the fintech industry. Computerworld states that more banks and financial tech companies are embracing the technology’s native capabilities in cross-border payment networks. J.P. Morgan recently launched the Interbank Information Network (IIN), which has the potential to reduce the number of workers needed to respond to data-related inquiries.

The Bank of England, on the other hand, is already planning to create its own Bitcoin-style virtual currency. What will power the virtual currency is blockchain, which means the bank’s accounting department will be relying on the technology soon. If successful, the Bank of England can set the ball rolling and entice other financial institutions and accountancy firms to adapt blockchain into their systems.

11 Apr

UK ACCOUNTING FIRMS USING THE CLOUD OUTPACING TRADITIONAL PRACTICES

Despite the commonly perceived threat of technology taking jobs away from accountants, new research from Xero has shown that in reality, the opposite is true. 

Xero’s Accounting and Bookkeeping Industry Performance Report which surveyed 939 practices revealed that when serving more clients online, practices are experiencing a greater demand for new staff as well as a dramatic increase in year on year revenue.

The report found that 81% of small firms serving more than 100 cloud clients are actively looking to employ more staff, compared with just 49% of firms with fewer than five small business clients using online accounting. The trend continues for mid-sized firms – nine in 10 firms with more than 300 online accounting clients are looking for new staff compared with 59% for firms with fewer than five.

The demand for tech-savvy online accountants has also resulted in increased revenue per employee for cloud-based firms, as well as higher compensation packages for employees within firms that are adept at using technology to serve their clients. Practices with 6-35 online clients achieve an average revenue contribution of £65,000, while firms with between 100-299 achieved an average of £115,000.

Furthermore, technology is enabling the transformation of the role of the accountant to that of the connected business advisor. The report found that practices providing advisory services earn considerably more revenue per client than firms purely offering compliance (£6,990 vs £4,200).

By offering expertise in solving challenging business problems, these specialist services are generating a significant annual revenue per client. The accountants that take the role of personal trainer/coach, tech-loving expert and holistic coach are seeing the highest revenue per client.

Damon Anderson, Director of Partner at Xero commented:

We’re seeing an increasing number of practices embracing cloud technology, particularly in the lead up to Making Tax Digital. Our research shows that rather than putting an accountant’s job on the line, cloud technology is enabling significant growth and as a result, revenue is increasing, teams are expanding and roles are evolving.
What it means to be an accountant today is a far cry from what it was before online accounting. Practices are diversifying their offering beyond just compliance into the realm of business advisory and seeing real growth. The cloud has been instrumental in this journey, freeing up time for accountants to develop their skills further as they do more to help small businesses prosper

Xero Partner, Olly Evans, Evans & Partners commented:

Since becoming a Xero Partner we’re doing a lot of our work more cost-effectively. We’re making better recovery on our jobs, we’re not carrying so much work in progress, we’re doing the jobs faster. All those good things are happening. We’re in double figures for growth, percentage-wise

Jonathan Bareham, Raedan commented:

This year we’re hoping to hit about 75% growth. But we’re getting that out of what’s still a really small team. Xero has allowed us, in a way, to punch above our weight from day one because we’ve been able to streamline so much. We can focus on doing more interesting things that make us look like a bigger firm than we are

To coincide with the report, Xero has launched an online benchmarking tool which allows practices in the UK to compare their firm with similar businesses across the nation. More than 900 accounting and bookkeeping practices told Xero about how their practice is performing, resulting in an interactive tool to compare performance based on revenue per client and clients served by employee.

For more information and to read the full report please click here.

22 Nov

EY and Concur to collaborate on the first fully integrated tax and immigration solution for business travellers

Concur, an SAP company and provider of travel, expense and invoice management solutions, is working together with business partners to offer  clients a better experience in global business travel and manage tax and immigration compliance risks via the Concur App Centre. 

The Concur Fusion Exchange event in London provided a great opportunity for current and prospective clients to speak to Concur partners such as AMEX, Acquis, BusinessVisaHQ, ATPI, Oversight, HRS Global Solutions, Realisable and many others, all of which are established and highly knowledgeable suppliers in the travel and expense industry to understand how their corporate travel can be improved.

Simon Mathews, Business Development Manager at AMEX said:

American Express is widely known for its credit card business. However, we are also a market leader in fraud detection and virtual payment solutions. We support our card users in being at the forefront of tackling fraud. One of many ways in which we do this is to offer clients one time payment mediums to be used at say, a hotel, and not to be used thereafter. This is by default a one time use card which eliminates fraud as no one else will be able to use the card again.
Furthermore, AMEX has full integration with Concur to make the travel and expense management data collection a seamless operation; Monitoring and tracking expenses from initiation to finance department with ease.

Matt Fryar, Vice President of Sales of Oversight said:

The travelling industry is an area highly underestimated in respect of deliberate fraud and error. Our solution offers users the ability to wholly integrate into Concur and detect corporate policy violations and reveal an array of risks from the smallest intentional fraud attempts to more larger scale transaction manipulation by travellers.

Real-time immigration and tax assessments to business travellers through the integrated offering by EY and SAP will capture relevant travel and business activity data within Concur. Using EY tax and immigration technology, the integration analyses the data to make a real-time assessment of a business traveller’s tax and immigration obligations before they travel.

By linking directly to real-time data within the Concur Travel and Expense platform, EY clients will be able to receive robust, real-time analytics into their domestic and international cross-border tax obligations. This seamless integration will give organisations increased visibility into potential risks before they occur, with no additional effort required from their travellers.

Michael Bertolino, EY Global People Advisory Services Leader, says:

Business travel is vital for EY clients around the world, and workforce mobility is an important driver of competitive advantage, as well as an operational necessity. The new offering helps us ensure that tax and immigration issues don’t impede employees from doing business when they are on the move. By harnessing the collective power of 10,000 EY professionals providing EY People Advisory Services, we will work together with Concur to support clients with a unique experience when it comes to managing business traveller risks

Mike Eberhard, President, Concur, says:

We want to make it easy for companies to adjust and adapt to the increasingly complex demands associated with global business travel-related tax and immigration. As Concur’s customers currently operate and expand globally, it’s important that we not only continue to innovate, but also work closely with industry leaders like EY to meet our clients’ current and future needs

The integrated solution will be available globally in the Concur App Centre for EY clients as well as Concur’s.

With more than 160 pre-built integrations with Concur Travel, Expense and Invoice products, as well as connections to popular apps, the Concur App Centre delivers innovative functionality in key categories such as finance, regulatory compliance, enterprise identity, traveller productivity, travel management and much more.

For more information, visit: https://www.concur.co.uk/app-centre.

16 Nov

THIRD OF FINANCE DEPARTMENTS ARE ALREADY USING AI

Research results released by BlackLine, provider of finance controls and automation software, revealed although still an emerging technology, AI is already playing a significant role in the finance function, with nearly a third of finance departments (32%) using AI software. The prominence of AI in finance is only predicted to increase, with 88% of CFOs agreeing it would hold a significant role in finance over the next 10 years.

The survey, conducted with CFOs, Finance Directors and accountants in the UK, US, France, Germany and Australia, revealed that there is almost unanimous support for AI’s future role in the finance department. Only 6% of respondents felt AI should not have a role to play in their finance department in the next 10 years. German respondents are the most enthusiastic about the significance of the role AI will play in in the next decade, with almost nine in ten (89%) expecting it to be significant or very significant, whilst UK respondents are the most sceptical (71%).

Andy Bottrill, regional vice president at BlackLine said:

This research reveals that, although AI technology is still nascent, a significant portion of finance departments are already beginning to make it a central aspect of their financial processes. Whether the technology will advance to the point that the more enthusiastic companies hope is still uncertain, but we’re seeing that organisations are beginning to build for an AI future regardless

When asked about the more immediate future, when it came to companies yet to utilise AI, the research also highlights a distinct divide in attitudes to upcoming AI implementation. For instance, 20% of respondents in the UK, and 18% in the US have no plans to implement AI in their organisation in the next year. This number falls significantly in Germany (10%) and France (6%), suggesting a generally more optimistic view on the maturity of AI technology from businesses in these two nations.

This trend continues when respondents shared their views on which finance tasks AI would be responsible for in 10 years’ time. Whilst, broadly speaking, respondents from all markets surveyed agree to the same extent that AI would be responsible for the automation of process-heavy and time-consuming tasks (67% in the UK, 65% in the UK, 63% in France, 60% in Germany, 57% in Australia), it’s a different story when it comes to higher-level strategic tasks.

When asked whether they saw AI advancing to the point where it will make strategic financial decisions in the next 10 years, there was a clear divide between countries:

  • 46% of French respondents agree
  • This falls to 35% in Germany
  • Only 31% of respondents in the UK agree
  • US respondents are most cynical with only 24% agreeing
  • Overall, almost a third (32%) of respondents feel AI should be making strategic financial decisions looking forward 10 years

As well as regional differences in attitudes towards AI’s significance and possible future responsibilities, there is a stark variance from different members of the finance department. CFOs are by far the most confident in the future role of AI in their department, with 42% deeming it one of the most significant technology for finance in the next five years (42% agreeing), ranking it above blockchain (18%), cyber security solutions (28%) and data analytics (40%).

Accountants’ and Finance Directors/controllers are far less convinced, with only 23% and 19% respectively agreeing with their CFOs that AI is among the technologies having the greatest impact on accounting in the next five years.

The enthusiasm shown by CFOs towards AI should not be taken as technological naivety, however. The research also reveals that CFOs are keenly aware that a failing AI could put them in the firing line.

43% of CFOs believe that CFOs or Financial Controllers should be most liable if an AI were to make a decision that resulted in regulatory non-compliance, a fine or a fall in stock price, whilst accountants and Financial Directors are less sure. Overall, 23% of all respondents thought the CFO or Financial Controller should be liable, 19% said the CEO and 14% said the AI’s developer. Australia is the only market where the CFO was not the person deemed who should be most liable. Australian respondents said that blame should be shared across the accounting department (19%) mostly.

Bottrill said:

CFOs’ inclination to consider themselves responsible should an accounting AI fail and damage their organisation’s financial standing or reputation suggests that the new technology may not have an equal impact across the F&A function. While AI may bring considerable efficiency for the daily work of accountants and Finance Directors, allowing them to concentrate on different tasks, it could add a new responsibility and added complexity for the role of the CFO
14 Nov

Employees are getting smarter with committing expense fraud

84% of UK office workers have never had their expense claims challenged or declined. New global research carried out by Webexpenses has put expenses under the microscope and uncovered a staggering insight into the sophistication of methods that employees worldwide are using to submit fraudulent claims.

In many instances businesses may not be aware of the complex nature of expense fraud and the multitude of ways it could be hitting their organisation. However, 2017 research found that, 42% out of UK office workers surveyed, agreed that if they are sensible with fraudulent claims they are unlikely to be challenged.

With mileage being the most commonly claimed back form of transport (57%) it wasn’t a surprise to learn that nearly half of employees (47%) admitted to increasing the number of miles they travelled, with many respondents confessing to “only ever adding a couple of miles on”. The justification seemed to come from the 71% agreeing that ‘most people increase the miles they’ve travelled’ and a further 43% who agreed with the statement ‘everyone over claims so they don’t see an issue with it’.

What’s more, it appears fraud has become further excusable by over half (51%) of UK respondents thinking if they travel for work they deserve a treat. This is further supported by the 16% that confessed to treating themselves, a partner or child to a present while away on a business trip. The results indicate that an increasing amount of employees think that if they put the hours in they deserve a reward, a concept that if ignored could cumulatively have a detrimental impact on company finances.

The results as a whole indicate a growing endemic in today’s business culture where employees have learnt how to play the system moving to more surreptitious techniques of falsifying and exaggerating already existing claims to ensure it goes unnoticed. 26% of UK employees admitted to requesting a blank receipt for taxi travel to enable them to exaggerate the cost. This further increases prevalence that finance teams are falling victim to the manipulation of claims that essentially abide by the policy but are dishonest.

Although the research suggests that the tactic of little and often seems to be the most common and safest form of fraud, there are still employees trying their luck with more brazen expenses. This was seen in those respondents who confessed to claiming a digital SLR camera or a gas cooker.

Commenting on the findings, Adam Reynolds, CEO at Webexpenses stated:

The results bring to light the changing patterns of expense fraud, the shift to more subtle methods to efficiently enable claims to fall through the cracks and raise no red flags. The most prominent area being exaggerating mileage claims, this could be down to employees feeling it’s completely innocent just rounding up and with a manual process it’s a lot harder to identify.
42% of employees surveyed said there were a lack of adequate checks to keep fraud under control at their current place of work, this ultimately allows fraud to continue ticking on and the longer employees get away with it the more accepting it becomes and the less guilty they feel. We hope these results are the push businesses need to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of their expense management system

With the average number of times per year that those polled had falsely claimed being 11, and on average UK businesses, losing around £100 million each year to falsified and exaggerated claims it’s time businesses look to tighten and improve their processes.

06 Oct

WORKING IN THE ‘DARK AGES’: FIFTH OF ACCOUNTANTS STILL USING 13TH CENTURY METHODS

A new report has found that despite six in ten (61%) accountants saying that the finance and accounting profession is at a technological tipping point, six in ten (64%) still know someone who is using desktop spreadsheets as their primary accounting tools.

The research from cloud accounting software company Xero finds there is a high expectation that accountants should be up-to-date with the latest accounting technology, with only a small number (6%) of SMB owners citing that it’s not important. Despite this, eight in ten (78%) accountants who work in accounting and bookkeeping firms still work off computer spreadsheets and a fifth (18%) still use a paper ledger, used as far back as the 13th century, to manage accounts.

To encourage accountants and small businesses to ‘keep up’ and get their accounting systems online, Xero has launched its Digital or Die report and commissioned renowned renaissance artist China Jordan to recreate the Portrait of Luca Pacioli; the man known as the ‘Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping’. The update brings Pacioli, who was the first to publish a detailed description of the double entry system, into the modern age by updating his ledger with modern-day technology.

The Digital or Die report finds half (48%) are worried about the speed of change impacting the accounting industry and being left behind – rising from 22 per cent in 2016. This is amplified by the fact that more than a third (35%) do not think there is enough education or training available to ensure that UK accountants will be able to keep up with the pace of digital change and upcoming legislation.

With change on the horizon, only 17 per cent of accountants say they are very prepared for upcoming legislation, such as Making Tax Digital, the government’s plan to make tax returns digital and quarterly. A further quarter (25%) of accountants were not aware of Making Tax Digital at all – a concern, as a quarter of SMB owners (25%) believe that it’s their accountant’s responsibility to keep them updated with the latest legislation.

Shaun Robertson, Director, Qualifications from The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) adds:

Some accountancy professionals fear being ‘left behind’ by the speed of change, which is why it’s so important to learn about the benefits, opportunities and challenges of new technologies. In some cases, technology such as AI may supersede human efforts, however, it does not replicate human skills and intelligence. We need to recognise the strengths and limitations of different forms of technology, and build better understanding of the best ways for humans to benefit from computers.

When asked about the perceived benefits of going online, Xero’s Digital or Die Report finds:

  • Cloud based accounting could save accountants 117.5 hours a year on average (15 days) by eliminating the time spent on administrative tasks – approximately £3,153.70 per year, per staff member.
  • A quarter (23%) say it could save them more than half a day per week (4 hours).

To find out more and to download the Digital or Die Report, click here.

22 Aug

Disintermediation, and the role of humans in providing assurance

Innovation, both in technology and business model, has given both enterprises and individuals the ability to perform many tasks that previously required a third-party expert.  Shopping for insurance,  sending money overseas and most recently, raising venture capital.  It is worth asking whether this can happen to the auditing profession, or to the function of assurance in general.

In one sense, the answer has to be no. Machine learning may evolve to the point where it is better at spotting compliance gaps than human auditors, but cannot make the final judgement and opinion required of an auditor.  But there is still a huge change coming. Humans may continue to have a key role in providing assurance, but the tasks a human needs to perform in fulfilment of that role are likely to undergo their most significant change since the invention of double entry accounting in the mid 1300’s.

Fundamental change in the assurance process

We tend to think of assurance as a deterministic process.  When performing an audit, you follow a well-defined process, and at the end of the process you make a yes-or-no decision about whether a company’s books are a good representation of the company’s true financial position.  Standards and compliance checks follow a similar pattern.  The advent of cloud computing, blockchain, and peer-to-peer business models make this harder: they are not only blurring the lines of data ownership, but much more fundamental concepts, such as what defines an employee or who owns a company.

There is an upside. However, data may be becoming much more disperse, but it is also becoming more granular, and there is a lot more of it.  While it becomes much harder to provide assurance via a deterministic process, it also becomes much easier to provide assurance via a stochastic process. In other words, it is harder to provide a categorical statement of compliance, but easier to quantify a level of confidence that compliance has been met.

This change poses both threat and opportunity.  The threat is that a good portion of the tasks that auditors perform today will become automated.  The opportunity is that there is a huge unmet demand for guidance and thought leadership that accountants are uniquely well qualified to provide.

Huge unmet demand for leadership

For all the benefit they provide, disruptive forces also generate friction (not to mention considerable publicity) by skirting regulatory frameworks. In time, they are almost always called back to account, as we see happening now with such disruptors as Uber, Airbnb and Bitcoin. Investors react to this with uncertainty, and capital that could be used to spur innovation is held back.

If assurance professionals could provide reliable principles and guidance on how new solutions could secure approval, the world would beat a path to their door.  Regulation might be seen to stimulate business rather than stymying it. This is more than just philosophical musing; there are opportunities are available here and now.  Here are a couple concrete examples:

Blockchain

Blockchain solutions are easier to implement than the solutions they replace.  But modern architectural best practice is to protect sensitive customer data by keeping it inside a firewall; blockchain solutions fundamentally and radically defy this principle by distributing a copy of this data to every other participant in the trading network, typically the enterprise’s direct competitors.  Architects therefore have no sound basis for approving blockchain solutions for production use, even if the solution would actually improve the safety of the customer data.  Assurance professionals who could give architects a fundamental set of business principles upon which to approve blockchain solutions would find themselves in great demand.

ICO’s

Initial Coin Offerings have raised more money this year than all traditional venture funding sources combined.  Unfortunately, the characteristics of this investment boom resemble pretty much every investment bubble in history, and the utter lack of due diligence with which people are throwing money into ICO’s is appalling.  If assurance professionals were to provide a framework of proper due diligence, both companies and investors would welcome such a framework now; Once the bubble does burst, regulators will be actively looking for a set of principles to adopt in order to protect people going forward.

Assurance professionals, like many other financial services providers, run a significant risk of being disintermediated. But they also have a huge opportunity to make themselves incredibly relevant to current and future waves of innovation.  The difference is getting involved.

Areiel Wolanow is the managing director of Finserv Experts, an independent consulting firm offering advisory and solution delivery services in blockchain, machine learning, and innovation adoption.

17 Jul

Talend Unveils Multi-Cloud Big Data Integration Solution

Talend, a provider of cloud and big data integration solutions, unveiled a new version of its Talend Data Fabric platform that is optimised to manage cloud and multi-cloud enterprise IT environments.

Talend Summer ’17 helps seamlessly manage information across Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cloudera Altus, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Snowflake platforms, enabling customers to rapidly integrate, cleanse and analyse data to fuel innovation and gain a competitive edge.

As businesses continue to evolve their cloud strategies, many find that it’s imperative to use services from several different cloud providers to deliver value across their business units. In fact, according to IDC, more than 50 percent of IT organisations already utilise a multi-cloud approach and another 20 percent have plans to implement [a multi-cloud strategy] within 12 months.

Ashley Stirrup, CMO, Talend said:

Companies are adopting cloud platforms at an unprecedented pace and as they do so, they are selecting different platforms to address varying business needs
In this environment, CIOs must design their IT infrastructure with agility to deliver in a hybrid, multi-cloud world. Using Talend Data Fabric, companies can develop data pipelines on any of the leading cloud platforms with peace of mind in knowing whatever they develop will be able to run on the latest cloud and open source innovations

The Summer ’17 release of Talend Data Fabric allows customers to access a rich and growing library of Talend native cloud components, using intuitive drag-and-drop visual tools to build big data workflows that run in nearly any cloud, almost anywhere. Adding to its already robust support for AWS, the new version of Talend Data Fabric includes new capabilities for Cloudera Altus, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Snowflake that allow customers to:

Speed Multi-Cloud Pipeline Development:

Talend Summer ‘17 delivers a range of new connectors for Azure, Cloudera and Google Cloud that span Big Data, cloud data warehousing, NoSQL, and messaging platforms. Additionally, the newest version of Talend Data Fabric includes the industry’s first support for Cloudera Altus, a platform-as-a-service offering that

simplifies customers’ construction and deployment of intelligent data pipelines on Cloudera – minimising the need for operational support.

Accelerate Migration to the Cloud:

Talend Summer ’17 helps rapidly migrate on-premises data to the cloud, so customers can simply and intuitively build cloud data warehouses, power richer analytics, and speed time-to-insight. With this release Talend delivers the fastest bulk loader connector for Snowflake that accelerates data migration by up to 20X. Using data quality and visual extract, transform and load tools, Talend reduces the time needed to migrate on-premises and cloud data to Snowflake.

Build Once, Use Everywhere:

Talend Summer ’17 provides the flexibility and portability to take development work designed for one cloud platform and reuse it with other cloud platforms. This is designed to help customers rapidly adopt new innovations in cloud services and future-proof current development work. Consequently, businesses can rapidly combine and analyse data in new ways to innovate faster, while reducing their maintenance and development costs.

Delivering Data Quality with Machine Learning at Big Data Scale:

As data stores grow, customers must find new ways to clean and combine data at scale with even less human intervention. Talend Summer ’17 utilises Apache Spark-powered machine learning algorithms to automate and accelerate data matching and cleansing, improving scale, performance and accuracy. Over time, these algorithms monitor decisions made by data curators to become more intelligent and accurate. These new algorithms and machine learning capabilities are designed to work seamlessly with Talend’s intuitive, role-base Data Stewardship app, to enable continuous improvement within each data quality model.

Enterprises worldwide, across all industries use Talend together with our partners’ products to create truly data-driven solutions.

Walter Aldana, Snowflake’s vice president of Alliances said:

Talend and Snowflake have a solid partnership that continues to benefit our joint customers
With Talend’s newest Snowflake connector, enterprises will see even more efficiencies when moving data into Snowflake. Talend’s architecture capitalises on Snowflakes’ parallel loading capabilities, which enables our joint customers to easily load a diverse set of data types so they can jumpstart their cloud data warehousing projects much faster
30 Jun

Scan to Cloud. Fast.

Taking a picture of a receipt, invoice, report is great and convenient today than it was ever before. With the growing population of self employed and mobile workers along with the support of technology and software the global workforce is equipped to carry out business, employment and meetings almost anywhere.

That being said, then comes the issue of tech knowledge, scan resolution, lens angle issue and not to mention the quality of paper which has been crunched in our pocket or bag for a day (or week!) We then send it off to the finance team or our accountants via email for processing.

There is an alternative, more convenient and an option that does not clog up your phone memory. An alternative which you can conveniently text search for the content of the scanned document or receipt without having to search through hundreds of images on your mobile phone to find which receipt you were actually looking for.

The technology company, Fujitsu has come up with a solution that is portable and lightweight enough to be carried in handbags or briefcases anywhere you go. They have called it ScanSnap iX100 and its prominent function is being able to scan to the cloud / shared drive, for colleagues to use and work on. For those self employed it is a great way to digitise business cards and swiftly send documents to clients. The benefit of speed and the days of providing documents before having to be near a static office-bound flatbed scanner, before the office close, are over.

The utilisation of cloud technology and scanning to Microsoft Office for editing makes this lightweight device a useful and must have for those on the go.

The ScanSnap iX100 does not need to be plugged in when in operation. It is used wirelessly and controlled via an Android or Apple mobile device and when it comes to charging, it can be powered by the USB socket on your laptop or even with your mobile phone micro USB cable. It is truly geared for the mobile person who needs to digitise paper up to A4 size.

This piece of tech also is smart and small enough to be placed on a desk in the office to carry out lightweight tasks of scanning a few pages or images over to co-workers.

07 Jun

Digital Plumbing: How accountants can step back from data entry and make huge leaps in productivity

Manual data entry is not only a time-consuming exercise for accountants and their clients, but this inefficient process also risks errors occurring and restricts productivity. Traditionally, even small changes made in each individual business application – an updated address, for example – meant replicating this same change across all other applications to ensure all teams have the same information.

While on a small scale this may be manageable, as a client’s customer base grows, so do the number of transactions, and all it takes is a simple miscommunication of information between departments for a business to incur serious losses. This is where a ‘digital plumbing’ system comes into play.

Just as a traditional home plumbing system improves water flow through pipes, a digital plumbing system connects all the applications that clients use to run their businesses in order to automate and enhance the flow of information between them. This allows each department in their business and their accounting team to access accurate data across all their systems.

From generating reports to preparing budgets, much of an accountant’s time is spent manually gathering data from different applications. These can often be lengthy processes, which waste a great deal of time, but by having a digital plumbing system in place, accountants can sync all of their clients’ business applications together to bring all data into one place, where any of their clients’ teams can access it and view any updates that have been made in real-time. This cuts down on the number of manual errors and avoids management nightmares by simply connecting applications and automating data entry.

This further allows accountants to streamline their clients’ business processes as departments can gain immediate access all of the accurate information they need to perform essential tasks such as generating reports, contacting clients, resolving customer complaints and so on, which allows them to work more efficiently and to make precise, well-informed decisions on the fly. Without this, they are at the mercy of whatever data is available to them, which is at best irrelevant and at worst inaccurate.

A digital plumbing system also streamlines an accountant’s clients’ business technology, which will not only give accountants easier access to data, but enable them to become more familiar with various aspects of their clients’ businesses. This provides a birds-eye view of the entire business, giving accountants the opportunity to position themselves as strategic advisors by providing additional services, such as financial planning and growth analysis, in addition to managing bookkeeping and helping their clients to control expenditures.

Technological enhancements have undoubtedly facilitated a great deal of change in the accounting profession. However, with a digital plumbing system in place, these changes can become opportunities for accountants to add more value to their practices. Helping clients implement such a system will allow them to spend less time on entering data, removing duplicate entries, and minimising errors. Simply put, more efficient accounting means more successful clients.

With the help of a digital plumbing system, accountants will gain their clients’ trust and become a valued business advisor and integral part of their client’s success.

By Prashant Ganti Murthi, Product Manager, Zoho Books at Zoho