The last week of October and the first week in November each year is where many of the major conferences are held. National conferences from CCH, Thomson Reuters, and the Sleeter Group take place this time of the year, and many state CPA societies have large conferences for their members. These conferences are also where publishers announce new products and services for the coming year. Most of us in the accounting technology business are running around the country trying to speak on various topics, take webinars on the big announcements from the publishers, write up what we learn, and in our spare time, travel to the next site and, occasionally, sleep. (Nah – we don’t really sleep. It’s a blur of receipts, airplane peanuts, taxicabs, and caffeine this time of the year.)
Some major trends have emerged from these announcements.
- Mobile is the new “must have” product offering. CCH and Thomson Reuters both had big announcements (CCH, TR) about mobile strategy in the last week, and both promise more to come in the year ahead. The new apps work on smartphones and tablets, and have expanded to include not only Apple’s iOS (iPad and iPhone) platform, but also includes the popular Google Android smartphone platform.
- Hosting will be the way many locally-installed applications first move away from on-premises installation. Many hosted offerings are helping organizations move to the cloud without giving up the option of running an application on their internal servers in the future. Some notable examples include:
- Microsoft’s Office 365 bundle of hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync
- Intuit’s hosting provider program and Sage’s hosting programs (PT, Simply, MAS 90) are making on-premises accounting software available from anywhere.
- CCH announced a new hosted version of its ProSystem fx Scan tax document automation application.
- Cloud-based offerings are moving from the “hot and trendy” category to the “must have wardrobe basics” section. We are seeing the cloud-based offerings from many of the publishers mature, and there are a wide range of new, on demand offerings from every publisher.
- Yesterday Intuit announced a new version of its QuickBooks Online product targeted at accountants (the aptly-named QuickBooks Online for Accountants).
- Doug Sleeter’s keynote address yesterday detailed many major cloud offerings, and his conference is the ground-zero for the web-based accounting revolution. Major releases from Sage, Intuit, Xero, SmartVault, and many others will all be announced at this event, which continues through Wednesday in fabulous Las Vegas.
- Thomson Reuters announced a new product to be launched next year – Workpapers CS. This tool will be a new cloud-based integrated workpaper management system, and although I didn’t get a chance to see it during my trip to San Diego for their conference, I’m hoping to see it in the near future.
- CCH announced the integration of Speedtax’s SaaS applications into the CorpSystem product line, and also highlighted how the newest versions of their solutions make it possible to rapidly develop, create, and deploy applications such as the new CCH Tax News Highlights App, which was designed, created, and deployed to mobile devices running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS reportedly in just six weeks.
There is some consolidation going on in the marketplace, especially for venture-funded companies. This summer, major acquisitions include Drake’s purchase of tax document automation provider Copanion, CCH’s purchase of sales tax provider SpeedTax, Sage purchased Alchemex (the publisher of most of the Sage business intelligence offerings), and enterprise computing giant Citrix purchased secure portal provider ShareFile.
Where in the world is Brian? Well, I spoke at the Thomson Reuters User Conference in San Diego and at the PA Institute of CPA’s Emerging CPA’s Conference last week. This week, I’ll be speaking at the Tennessee Society of CPA’s Accounting & Auditing Conference (today), then jumping on a plane to the CCH User Conference in San Antonio, and wrapping up the week at the Arkansas Society of CPA’s Technology Conference on Thursday and Friday. (I really wanted to go to the Sleeter Conference in Vegas, but there were not enough hours in the day for me to make all of that happen). For more information about the goings-on, follow me on Twitter (@BFTCPA). There’s some really fabulous stuff rolling out to the profession this week, dah-lings.
(Now, where’s that sugar-free Red Bull I just opened….)