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First quarter 2024 tech updates for accountants

Technology

A practical look at the latest feature updates and transformations shaping the accounting industry this year so far.

By Heather Smith, ANISE Consulting 11 minute read

In a recent podcast for accounting technology enthusiasts, Tyler Caskey and I shared some of the key changes and announcements that have happened in the accounting tech space since the start of the year. Below is highlight of the key developments covered in the episode. 

Let's start by discussing some of the technology transformations reshaping our industry. Understanding these innovations enables us to talk about optimising operations that benefit us and our stakeholders.

Live banking refers to the real-time banking transactions. Tools like the digital corporate card management solution Weel and the global payments platform Airwallex enable near real-time bank transfers and connections between money spent, bank accounts, and accounting systems. Transactions take minutes rather than days, allowing customers to access money in their accounts quickly and conveniently.

Direct digital receipting is where the supplier receipt details are sent directly from the supplier to the accounting system. If you find yourself paying for coffee with your Weel card at an overpriced Noosa cafe that uses a POS EFTPOS solution like Slyp  or Tyro, the receipt and all the transaction details like the supplier, amount, date, etc. populate into Weel. This streamlines the payment process by reducing manual data entry and improving compliance. With all that efficiency, you can splurge on smashed avocado on toast.

Global banking capabilities and multi currency transactions are much easier and cheaper with digital technology solutions like Airwallex, OFX, Paytron and Wise. Unlike traditional banking options, these solutions enable businesses to set up international accounts in minutes rather than days, offer competitive rates, and near real-time international transfers and bill payments in different currencies. 

Google Assistant is removing 17 'underutilised' features across Android, many of them related to voice controls. The company has also announced that the Google podcast app, which is my favourite, will be shut down in April 2024 as it shifts podcasts to YouTube Music. This particularly interested me as I've recently upgraded from a Google Pixel 4 to the 7. The latest version is actually version 8, but the 7 was $1000 cheaper, which my ego can cope with! So far, everything has come across pretty easily except Xero Verify, the multi factor authentication app. It took me about 2 weeks working with support to get it running correctly, but now fortunately it is.

There have been some updates in the reporting space.

Calxa, the cash flow forecasting software specialised for not-for-profits, has introduced unlinked accounts and unlinked business units. An unlinked account does not exist in your accounting system. So this enables you to forecast for something without messing up your accounts.

Fathom recently updated its KPI library experience, making creating, duplicating, deleting, and organising customised KPIs easier. 

G-Accon, the solution that helps connect Google Sheets to your accounting solutions, has introduced automatic workflows to help users organise workflows within Google Sheets more efficiently and automate business processes. This includes refreshing queries/reports, uploading data, sending emails, setting alerts and creating backups using webhooks.

Translucent, the new multi-entity solution from Michael Wood, the founder of Receipt Bank, now Dext, has recently released an Intercompany App that empowers intercompany loan reconciliations and the ability to automate intercompany journal entries.

The team at Spotlight Reporting have released Spotlight Sustain which helps organisations deliver Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting. The dashboard includes a number of graphs, such as Energy Usage, Carbon Emissions, and Gender Diversity. 

Within Microsoft 365, when Co-Pilot is activated, there's the option to turn on "Speakers Coach", which analyses your voice and provides insights into your pace, pitch, how many filler words you're using, or how culturally inclusive your language is. With International Women's Day 2024 on Friday, 8 March 2024, I thought the inclusive language along with the Gender Diversity graphs were some nuanced solutions to helping everyone in the team feel welcome.

Xero has announced they are retiring classic invoicing on 2 September 2024. Many people in the community have raised their concerns about new invoicing missing features like the ability to process an overpayment, inability to edit exchange rates, and inability to invoice bulk contact groups. If you opt to switch over, your access to all of your clients shifts to new invoicing. However, you can quickly switch back if you need features only currently available within classic invoicing.

Bryan Williams of HockeyStick advisory and formerly Director of EcoSystem and Apps at Xero posted on LinkedIn an update to the WorkFlowMax story. With Xero announcing Workflow Max's retirement on 26 June 2024, a little over a year ago, Melbourne-based BlueRock acquired the WorkflowMax brand from Xero. In late February, they launched the new product, WorkflowMax by BlueRock, to the market. Congratulations to the team at Blue Rock.

Vinsight, the Winery software for managing your inventory, production and sales, has introduced advanced search filtering features. The new feature allows you to "pin" advanced searches and quickly reuse them. It's good to be aware that there are industry specific solutions out there, and you can assist your clients in finding integrated solutions by visiting the accounting software' App Stores.

As we wrap up, there are a few things Accounting Technology enthusiasts have to look forward to in March. The QuickBooks Roadshow 24 is visiting 15 Australian cities between the 1st and 21st of March, and the Accounting Business Expo shall be in Melbourne on the 20th & 21st of March. Tyler Caskey shall deliver a session on "Month End Close – How to automate your finance function" at the Expo, so please go and say Hi! The word on the street is you need to get your accommodation sorted fast because it's on at the same time as the Australian Grand Prix. 

There were many updates to the ever-evolving world of accounting technology that space did not permit me to include here. I hope you found something valuable to explore or implement in your practice or talk to your stakeholders about. Exciting innovative times!

Heather Smith, ANISE Consulting  

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