Taste of the Future at Tech Conference

I arrived late Monday in San Antonio for Scaling New Heights, which describes itself as an "Intuit-centric training experience." (Full disclosure: AccountingWEB is an official conference media sponsor.) I've been wandering the extensive exhibit hall, and after viewing the booths and talking to the different companies, I can make some off-the-cuff conclusions.

No One Goes It Alone Anymore
OK, it's an Intuit conference, so naturally the talk is how well a product works with QuickBooks. The interesting thing is how many companies are stressing this. The more that do it, the more likely it is that Intuit becomes a de facto standard. Take Finagraph, which does a neat job of turning QuickBooks data into business intelligence. QuickBooks provides the data; Finagraph provides the analysis. Along the same lines is BizTools, which promises SMBs the same intelligence solutions the big boys have enjoyed, for QuickBooks users.

There's more: Sales tax leader Avalara emphasizes its "seamless integration" with QuickBooks. Sales tax is enough of a nightmare, all by itself. PlanGuru offers "forward-looking financial analysis" and imports data from QuickBooks. Exact Online, which says it "makes it straightforward and cost-effective for small businesses to bring their business into the cloud," also integrates with QuickBooks.

The Cloud Rules
It's no surprise how many companies are stressing cloud solutions for a wide range of business problems. SmartVault runs like Google Docs on steroids, offering secure file storage and sharing. Indeed, it promises to help accountants post and store "audit-ready" documents. A company called Infinitely Virtual moves businesses to the cloud and notes data can be accessed on multiple platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac, iPad, and Android.

Indeed, it was hard to find a vendor that did not emphasize the cloud. A trend? Definitely. Software giant Adobe has in fact moved to an online subscription model. The days of the software download may be numbered.

Some Things Never Change
Accounting professionals still face some of the same problems they faced a generation ago, and although the solutions may be new and improved, there's less change in some areas than we might've expected.

Email and text messaging haven't replaced the telephone call. Ooma has taken a new look at it, however, with its suite of VOIP solutions including a virtual receptionist. The system integrates with your already existing landlines and mobile phones.

If you have employees, they still need paychecks, and there are several ways to do it. A company called NetSpend provides debit cards that eliminate the need even for direct deposit: Paychecks go directly to a dedicated debit card.

And paper hasn't completely disappeared either. Fujitsu was demonstrating a scanner that could scan an entire page at a time and yet could practically fit into a jacket pocket. Wellspring Software offers PrintBoss, which allows custom printing of checks: an old solution upgraded with the latest technology.

We hope to revisit some of these issues in the coming weeks.

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