Technology—specifically internet technology—has a record of disrupting tried-and-true methods of operation in ways that we often don't foresee. Look no further than the recent HBO announcement that they *gasp* will allow for plans not attached to a cable service. The same thing is happening in accounting.
What's the biggest sign of change? Intuit's announced depreciation of its Quickbook desktop product API. Are you going to embrace the change or fight the inevitable? As an accountant and trusted resource for your clients, embracing a purely cloud-based software world now will help you stay ahead in your industry.
It's no longer a question of why cloud, but when and how to prepare for the cloud. The API that Intuit is discontinuing is what currently connects developers and accountants with QuickBooks desktop data. Not to be too alarmist, but when this API is gone much of the abilities behind current hybrid solutions will be dropped in favor of the new, supported platform—QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online is the future, says Intuit, and it's better to go with the tide than against it. But why does the fear of the cloud exist? Questioning the cloud, and QuickBooks Online, is primarily an attempt to assert the validity of an accountant's time. This is rooted in a fear of losing control, since cloud services essentially lower the barrier—the complexity—of accounting software to the point where many tasks are either automatic (like a point-of-sale transaction sync) or easy enough for the business owner to do themselves within the software, from anywhere or any device.
Sure, cloud services tend to be simple compared with their legacy desktop counterparts, but this will change over time. Meanwhile, remember that building a business off of technology that may disappear or become unsupported one day (looking at you, Windows 95 accounting suites) is building on unstable ground. All the innovation is being thrown at cloud services and the space will move quickly!
After Intuit's announcement, solutions that are less user-friendly, like "backup-to-the-cloud," virtualized, or remote login schemes, should cease being the "go-to" for most businesses. In fact, as an expert resource you should welcome any technology that improves accessibility because these lowered barriers mean you can help more clients than ever before. The accounting firms that adjust their business models and readily accept cloud solutions will be those that lead the field in the future.
Moving to the cloud also provides the opportunity to expand your influence and provide insight into pieces that connect to and automate accounting tasks. Point-of-sale, ecommerce, and recurring subscriptions are three key technologies you can bundle into your portfolio. Offering them, as well as customer-driven loyalty solutions, will help you build a recurring revenue stream and a happier client base at the same time.
This is the future accountants should be preparing for—a beautiful, connected, seamless cloud-based future. While many existing solutions may go the way of the cable box, the key is understanding what is on the horizon so that you can adjust practices beforehand. This cloud-based future entails many apps connected to other apps—all in the cloud—and as a trusted advisor you can be at the center of it all, should you choose to be.
About the author:
Nate Stewart, CEO at Zing, has more than 15 years of experience developing web-based software from simple portals to full blown enterprise applications and has worked with startups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. He's developed custom ecommerce and inventory solutions from the ground up, including recurring billing systems, web-based inventory management tools, and omni-channel reporting. Zing is focused on developing a seamless Brick and Mortar experience via integration of their Point of Sale into leading platforms like QuickBooks Online and Bigcommerce.