New Stuff Alert for April 8, 2009

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There have been a lot of press releases lately with new and improved products and services vying for the attention of CPA’s after we all get past April 15th and get caught up on our much-needed sleep.  Some of the items I’ve run into include:

1. CCH has released IntelliConnect, the next generation platform for their research products.  It’s currently available on the products which were on Tax Research Network (and CCH is going to be migrating existing users starting in about three weeks), but it is a very simple to use platform.  One of the limiting things about the superceded TRN platform is that you need to select where you want to look for search results.  With IntelliConnect, by default, you search in all available databases – which means that you can find stuff in products you didn’t even know you had access to in your plan.  The user interface has been reconfigured to look more like the familiar three-pane split screen interface we all use in Microsoft Outlook or other e-mail programs.  I could go on about this for a while (and believe me, as NOT exciting as tax research can be, that’s saying something) – but you should check it out.  Think: Google for tax research, with authoritative literature.  (Now, if I could just get something like this for these shoeboxes I’m working my way through….  Search: BM&E, mileage logs +1099… (and then I woke up))

2.  Intacct and AICPA announced a deal to bring Intacct’s web-based accounting systems to AICPA members, and the two will develop a joint product that brings AICPA’s content together with Intacct’s systems for a new version of the product aimed at CPA’s.  I’ve done some work lately with Intacct, and have been very impressed with how easy it is to use, as well as the interesting ways you can use it to accumulate data the way you want to see it presented.  In the long run, I think there is a place for cloud computing – especially where people need to collaborate who are not in the same physical location.  The on-premises software model has so many capitalized costs as well as hidden maintenance costs, SaaS makes it possible for people to add capacity (and drop capacity) seamlessly as it is needed.  The financial flexibility associated with SaaS alone is a reason to consider it – before you consider the redundant data centers, real time backup, access from anywhere, etc.  While there are still some user issues to be worked out with any SaaS deployment (security validation, your backup, exit strategy if you want to change products, vendor due diligence, etc.), I’m glad to see the AICPA move toward the future with a SaaS offering as strong as Intacct.

3. CODA announced a new version of CODA 2go based on the Force.com platform.  While this press release just came out yesterday, Dennis Howlett from across the pond has some good interview video with a CODA representative talking about the solution.

4. ThomsonReuters announced updates to their PlannerCS product related to the new tax legislation.  They’ve got a scan & organize solution this year with both UltraTax and GoSystem Tax, and I’m looking forward to hearing from firms how well things are going.  I’m not hearing anything from firms right now – which must mean that things are going reasonably well, and they are pretty busy.  (Normal for this time of year in the tax world.)

5. Fujitsu is coming out with the updated ScanSnap S1500(the desktop model), and has some cool things going on with touch-screen, network based scanners(the fi-6010N).  I’m anxiously awaiting my 30 days with a demo unit, as I have about 10 Banker’s Boxes of files which need to be put into my DMS, and I’m looking forward to having a device which doesn’t tie up a PC and can scan 50 pages a minute.  Very, very cool.

6. HP has some production scanners coming out soon with a new, jam-resistant sheet feeder on them.  I saw one work at the AIIM show, and it looked pretty good.  I’m optimistic here, but would like to play with a demo unit for 30 days or so before I pass judgement here.  A shoot-off between their unit and a Fujitsu would be very interesting here – kind of a reality show for paper farmers like me…  Hmmmm… that gives me an idea.

As a side note, I ran into a contact from ThomsonReuters at the AIIM Info360 show in Philadelphia.  It’s always nice when you see professional contacts from the CPA industry attending shows like AIIM which are targeted at general use of technology – it reminds me that we’re all competing for the best ideas and technique to increase our productivity and output.  I don’t know about you, but I’m doing my best to not participate in the recession.  The economic doldrums will have to drag me to the party kicking and screaming.  While I’m not delusional here, I have discoverered that worrying is a largely non-productive emotion.

I’m getting into podcasting with some different groups.  I have two podcasts in development, and the first episode of each is now posted to the web (although I don’t think either are on iTunes as of yet.  The podcasts are:

  • Focus on Gadgets & Gizmos is a monthly podcast where Greg LaFollette and I talk about leading (and sometimes bleeding) edge gadgets & gizmos you can use to enhance your digital lifestyle (work and play).  We’re still working on the list of material we will cover in future episodes, but the first episode is on the Amazon Kindle2 device. 
  • The Bit Brothers is a periodic podcast that I do with Dr. Bob Spencer and Randy Johnston on general technology topics.  We’re still working on our material for future episodes, etc., but you can learn more about what we’re doing and listen to our very rough episode #1 at www.bitbros.com.

We’re working on increasing the production quality of each podcast – both were recorded using Skype and/or telephone call recording devices, and I’m learning more than I ever imagined I would about reverb, signal to noise ratio, licensing rights for music, audio mixing (I may be reaching out to my namesake, the record producer for some help here).  If you have comments, ideas, recommendations, etc., please send them to bftcpa [att] gmail/dot/com

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