In the 40-odd years that Smithink's founding director David Smith has been in the accounting industry, he says the last 10 have seen some of the most significant movements in terms of technology development, and in the attitude of accountants towards software.
Productivity gains are one significant upside, but as the marketplace becomes increasingly crowded, accountants should be wary of the longevity of start-ups with a niche focus, he said.
“From the accountant’s perspective, how do they choose? Getting across all of those is a challenge,” Mr Smith told Accountants Daily, following the Accountants Technology Showcase Australia.
“The other challenge is that a lot of these businesses don’t last long. They are little start-ups, they give it a go, they fade away,” he said.
“You don’t want to train your staff and spend all of that effort to get yourself up to speed, and then it may not keep advancing, or people may not invest in it.”
Another implication of having multiple disparate products is transferring data been applications which don’t necessarily “talk to each other” in an efficient way, he said, despite a considered push from major software vendors to have an open API.
Product integration is high on the wish list of accountants, Mr Smith found in his latest survey of Australian 180 firms. Against a backdrop of the major vendors being sceptical to work together, Mr Smith sees some improvement in the way of integration - but not enough for accountants to use several products with absolute ease.
“While there are improvements in terms of moving data between applications, it’s still quite a significant problem that practices need to deal with. There are inefficiencies when you are using multiple disparate products, versus a suite of products,” he said.
“If i’m a full accounting firm, and I’m doing compliance, business advisory, financial planning, and SMSF advice, I can’t get a view of all that in a holistic way. Because at the moment from a technology perspective, it’s pretty siloed,” he added.
“There are some suppliers which are trying to bring that together, to try and work out a way of creating that integrated view, but it’s not easy to do,” he said.