Editor’s Note:Sage Summit is next week in FLV (fabulous Las Vegas), and Sage wanted to give you, the gentle reader of this blog, the chance to win some spa time. Read this excellent post, and decide – IRL are you more like a minnow or a shark? What do you need to change to realize your goals and dreams? And if you want to enter for the free spa time for yourself or your significant other, click on the link at the bottom of the blog. Thx, Brian
The Tale of the Shark and the Minnow
Minnows don’t like change. They wait to see what everyone else is doing and what works. Minnows are slow to adapt and like to stick to business as usual.
On the other hand, the shark is always changing, always moving, and attacks the latest and greatest before everyone else finds out about it. The shark knows that business as usual will put you out of business – and you go hungry. It dives into the latest technology and beats the competition.
Would you rather be a minnow or a shark? That’s a no brainer, right?
Technology adoption is often what sets the best businesses apart from the pack. If you are holding back, waiting to see how things go, waiting to respond to your competitors, you are as good as hooked. Here are some trends you’ll want to be watching.You can’t afford to miss these.
Business isn’t just done in an office or even behind a desk anymore.It’s done in an airport, a coffee shop, your living room, or even your kid’s baseball game.If you want to keep up with the way business is done, you need to have the right tools to keep things on track anytime and anywhere.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the cloud and some of the many benefits of working online.It used to be mainly about reducing costs, but now it is about so much more.Managing accounting processes in the cloud allows for improved agility, innovation and collaboration.
It’s not just about social media (although that is important as well).It’s about social collaboration.Several tools and accounting applications now give you the ability to collaborate with your colleagues or even your accountant or bookkeeper online and in real-time.This makes it much easier to share information and solve problems.
Apps for Anything, and Everything
“There’s an app for that.”Sound familiar?Well, there really is!And that definitely includes accounting, invoicing, and project management tools.
·Real-time data and analytics
oManually compiling numbers every time you need an update is so 2013.Real-time data reporting is where it’s at now.When you can access information in real-time, you can quickly identify trends and opportunities and gain a competitive edge.
Phew, that was a lot of information! Being a shark can be exhausting, right? To help you get some TLC, our friends at Sage are offering readers of CPA Tech Blog a chance to win one of two $225 gift certificates to SpaFinder.com.
(The rules of Sage’s contest are here, The contest ends at the end of the day on August 31, 2014, winners will be selected and notified by e-mail on or about September 4, 2014, and if you don’t respond to the e-mail in a week, Sage will give the winner’s swag to someone else – so check your spam folders, people!)
Open source drive encryption tool Truecrypt announced that the product is discontinued on its main website today, and the official website has been replaced with directions for getting any encrypted data moved to Bitlocker-protected drives. The website says that “Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues”
Coming on the heels of the OpenSSL vulnerability, this may shake the confidence which businesses have in the reliability of open source software. Although the purchase price seems right for open source (free), the cost of unexpected announcements like this, the lack of professional management, and other issues with the practical maintenance and implementation of such products makes commercial software look better all of the time.
If you are using TrueCrypt as your hard disk encryption tool, we recommend that you transition to Windows Bitlocker, PGP Whole Disk Encryption, or another solution ASAP.
#CES2014 kicked off last night with the “CES Unveiled” event. I attended, and as it’s not my first trip to CES, it seemed like there was a good mix of evolution and revolution in the products on display. Some of the major themes on display were as follows:
Even though I called #BS on the Amazon Prime Air publicity stunt a few weeks ago, drones are still going to be a big leap forward in 2014. The drones on display at the event were very impressive, and I could see how they could be utilized in a number of scenarios for home and business use, including:
Imaging and agricultural yield management in a large field
Live traffic reporting from trouble spots around a city
Crowd management at an outdoor event
Real time overhead video at a football game
Surveillance by law enforcement
Overhead security camera for a large parking lot
Delivery of packages by Amazon
While I’m still not crazy about having millions of drones overhead, I think there are some practical uses of this technology. Let’s just make sure that we get the NSA under control before we start using these things in earnest, OK?
First Data was exhibiting the Clover point of sale system, which is a tricked out Android tablet that’s used along with a cloud-based point of sale system to process transactions and manage retail stores. (Clover was purchased by First Data in 4Q 2013) While I spent a very short period of time at their table (which was very crowded), it looked very impressive, and I plan to visit them during the show. The overview video from their press kit appears below.
An Intro to the Clover cloud-based point of sale system
It is clear that wearables will be a big topic of discussion at this years International CES, but I didn’t get a good barometer on how ready the products are for the real world. Everyone had their obligatory “Dick Tracy” bluetooth smartwatch which served as a second, smaller screen that pairs with your phone, but none of these have impressed me as “life changers” thus far. More on this later in the show. There were a number of exhibitors at the event who were presenting their take on the next evolution in the FitBit exercise tracking devices. Notably absent was Google Glass as well as other devices which use “heads up displays” to access information without using traditional screens.
The most interesting wearable I saw was a pair of swim goggles with embedded heart monitoring. This item was displayed in a showcase of award winners by CEA (pictured above), but was not available for testing at the event.
The Upp fuel cell, which will be distributed in the US by Brookstone (MSRP $199, available in Q1 2014) looked very interesting, and there were signs that this technology will be on display elsewhere at this year’s show. I’m glad to see this technology finally reaching the market, and hope to be able to evaluate this product for a future post.
A second fuel cell vendor named Brunton was on display in a glass case as a CEA award winner, but I was not able to speak with a company representative about this product’s capabilities and US distribution outlets. I hope to see them during the show later this week.
The Arrayent Connect platform is a cloud-based framework for integrating connected home devices from multiple ecosystems together. This toolset appears to make it possible to connect enterprise applications, mobile applications, and analytical tools to devices which four major communication protocols (Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, AC900/868, and ZigBee). The company’s offerings are targeted at manufacturers, systems integrators, and others who want to connect devices together from multiple manufacturers across multiple platforms without needing to write code.
Since Arrayent is selling their technology to go under the hood of products from Maytag, Whirlpool, I don’t expect you to hear much news about them in the coming months. The company’s efforts are still important to solving the problem of communications and “data plumbing” between the wide range of connected devices we use every day.
I thought it might be helpful to post a topical index to the reviews we wrote over at The CPA Practice Advisor this year. If you click on the author's last name in the "2013" column, you will be taken to the lead article in each of the product groups.
National Harbor, Maryland - Sage North America formally kicked off its annual Sage Summit conference this morning. The convention, which brings thousands of Sage customers and business partners together every year, is being held at the Gaylord National Resort just outside Washington, D.C. from July 21-26. Participants will attend a wide range of educational sessions on the company’s products, which include business management applications like Sage One, Sage 50 U.S. Edition (formerly Sage Peachtree), Sage 50 Canada Edition (formerly Simply Accounting by Sage), Sage 100 ERP (formerly MAS 90 ERP), Sage 300 ERP, Sage 500 ERP, and Sage X3 ERP.
The opening keynote was led by Sage North America CEO Pascal Houillon, and included presentation by many key executives, including Sage Group global CEO Guy Berruyer. Houillon and CTO Himanshu Palsule walked through a number of new products, including cloud-connected services which work with existing ERP products, mobile applications for a wide range of customer needs and platforms, and solutions for accountants and consultants.
Houillon mentioned numerous enhancements to the Company’s cloud accounting program, Sage One made in the last year, including bank reconciliation and data integration. The company also announced that it will have a version of Sage 300 ERP (ACCPAC) running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform later this year, and it has begun creating a version of Sage 100 ERP (MAS 90/200) for this platform as well.
(Pic: Sage North America CTO Himanshu Palsule and CEO Pascal Houillon held a dialog during their keynote opening Sage Summit 2013)
(Pic: Guy Berruyer, Global CEO of The Sage Group, delivered a short section of the opening keynote)
The two most impressive technology demonstrations were a voice recognition mobile app and data on how clients are using the applications. The voice recognition app retrieve customer data from an ERP system using natural language queries, including credit limit, unpaid receivables, and address information. The mobile tool also integrated with web-based mapping functions to provide directions from the users location and was able to initiate a call to the customer’s phone number. The client information application, called Sage Advisor, uses data mining techniques to extract and share information on the features they use in their solutions to their business partner. This data is presented in a graphical format from the Sage Partner Portal, and is available for use today. This application is arguably one of the most impressive “big data” projects in the accounting technology space to date.
(Pic: Sage executives Jennifer Warawa and Joe Langner review a Sage Advisor customer usage dashboard )
During the convention, the company announced a number of new products and enhancements, including Sage Enterprise Intelligence for Sage ERP X3, Sage Intelligence Bundle for Sage 100 ERP, Sage 300 ERP, and Sage 500 ERP, and Sage Inventory Advisor. The business intelligence products, which are targeted as solutions for the company’s mid-market and enterprise customers, are designed to extend the company’s core accounting/ERP offerings with extended reporting and data analysis. Sage Inventory Advisor is a cloud-based tool which helps businesses to project and forecast sales and inventory needs, and is accessible from both mobile and traditional web browsers.
Sage North America CEO Pascal Houillon has brought a greater focus to the company during his tenure. Under his leadership, the company launched Sage ERP X3 for enterprise customers and Sage One to provide an online accounting and project management solution for entrepreneurs. At last year’s conference, Houillon announced the company’s plans to sunset support for a number of products, including DAC Easy Accounting, Sage 500 ERP, and others, at a date no earlier than August 2017. The company has also enhanced its Sage Intelligence reporting and business intelligence application, and created a number of new product offerings, including Sage Mobile Sales and Sage Payment Services. The company has created commercial cloud hosting programs for a number of its products, including Sage 50 US, Sage 50 Canada, Sage 100 ERP, and Sage 300 ERP.
The company’s restructuring resulted in a number of significant changes, including realignment of the company’s development efforts under CTO Himanshu Palsule, and the creation of groups focused on enterprise customers, mid-market customers, small business customers, and entrepreneurs. Sage North America has also divested a number of products since last year’s show, including ACT! by Sage, Sage SalesLogix, and Sage Fund Accounting.
Sage Summit is the annual user conference for Irvine, California based Sage North America (na.sage.com). Sage North America is a subsidiary of The Sage Group, PLC a leading global provider of business management software to small and medium sized companies. Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 (LN:SGE) and has been part of the benchmark UK FTSE 100 market index since 1999. Sage has over 6 million customers and more than 13,380 employees in 24 countries covering the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, South Africa, Asia and Brazil.
Our friends at the Sage Accountants Network published a survey today on how small businesses use accounting services. Click on the graphic below to see a full size version of the infographic included with the release.
The text of the release follows:
TheSage Accountants Usage Study, which looked at how small businesses use accountant services, found that the majority of small businesses that utilize the services of an outside accountant (74% in U.S. and 68% in Canada) do so, in part, because of the complexity of regulations and tax code. This survey was conducted among 373 small businesses in the U.S. and 300 in Canada.
This is not the first time a Sage survey has shown these as key issues for small businesses. The Sage Small Business Sentiment Survey from February 2012 showed that 49 percent of small businesses felt high taxes were one of their top three issues that would hinder growth, while 43 percent of small businesses surveyed said too many regulations would hinder growth.
Watch the video for more information on these and other survey findings.
A similar survey in November 2012 found that 67 percent of small businesses were most concerned about taxes, and 48 percent were most concerned about regulations. In that same month, the Sage Canadian Small Business Financial Literacy Survey found that 34 percent of small business owners felt that dealing with taxes was a management weakness.
Ever-changing tax codes and increased complexity of regulations show no signs of letting up with many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act going into effect in 2014 in the U.S. To manage this and other regulatory changes, partnering with an outside accountant to help stay compliant should be a priority for small businesses in 2013 and beyond.
Many small businesses recognize the value of an outside accountant, especially when it comes to preparing corporate taxes and being compliant: Seventy-four percent of U.S. and 80 percent of Canadian small businesses receive corporate tax services from their outside accountant, and 52 percent of U.S. and 53 percent of Canadian use their outside accountant for business tax compliance. Sixty-two percent of U.S. small businesses actively utilize the services of an outside accountant (up from 60% last year), and 82 percent of Canadian small business owners utilize an outside accountant (up from 61% last year).
Jennifer Warawa, Sage VP of partner programs and channel sales, shares these and other findings from the survey and the importance of using an outside accountant as a business consultant in this video.
More Information For more findings from this study:
About Sage Sage is a leading global supplier of business management software and services for small and midsized businesses. The Sage Group plc, formed in 1981, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and now employs more than 13,500 people and supports more than 6 million customers worldwide. For more information about Sage in North America, please visit the company website at NA.Sage.com. Follow Sage North America on Facebook, Facebook.com/SageNorthAmerica, and Twitter, Twitter.com/SageNAmerica.
As I mentioned two months ago, I have maintained a listing of web-based accounting software for over a year. This listing gives the names, market segments, and websites for over 50 products which are used for accounting or related functions for small and mid-sized businesses.
There were a number of major announcements made today, the first workday after the April 15th tax deadline. These include:
Thomson Reuters announced that they were purchasing certain assets from RedGear. According to a Thomson Reuters news release, RedGear is discontinuing the TaxWorks product, and are selling some of those assets to Thomson Reuters. “After careful consideration, we’ve decided to focus more strongly on our consumer tax preparation software for our retail and franchise business and therefore will no longer offer the TaxWorks line of software,” said Brad Peacock, Assistant Vice President, RedGear Technologies. The full press release is located here.
Sage announced the release ofSage 50 2014 (US Version), the latest version of the business management software formerly known as Peachtree Accounting. Key enhancements include:
More options for the Sage 50 Intelligence Excel-based reporting tool, including the ability to create drag and drop reports from templates.
Changes to how payments are applied to reduce the number of steps required to enter and account for such payments. Some enhancements were also made to how payables are handled to eliminate steps in the process.
New Quote status column so you can track the status of open quotes.
Changes to how the product is released, which should result in more substantive product enhancements throughout the year instead of all new features released at once in the summer.
Sage is has also streamlined the Sage 50 US lineup, and Sage 50 First Accounting has been discontinued. The entry point into the Sage 50 lineup is Sage 50 Pro Accounting at $269 MSRP. (Please note that many other countries have products called Sage 50,including Canada, which are different products. The Canadian version of Sage 50, for example, was previously called Simply Accounting).