Intuit Accountants News Central

Our Digital Future

Article Post Date
June 12th 2013 by Randy Johnston

Since many of you are new to me and some of you have known me for years, I wanted to make sure you knew my point of view on the blog posts you’ll read here at the Intuit® Accountants News Central blog.

First, my technology recommendations are always biased by three attributes: reliability, speed and price. I’ll always choose and recommend reliability first, at the greatest speed possible, and let the price fall where it may. Second, I’m always willing to trade dollars for hardware and software, if it will save me time, and consequently, allow me to make more, do more and have a reasonable expectation of a positive ROI. Third, I’m willing to try technology, so that you don’t have to, and I will tell you the things that work.

People who know me well understand that I’ll respond to your individual request in less than 24 hours, and will always try to give you solid, actionable advice. I know my reputation is on the line whenever I make a prediction or recommendation. Enough said!

What does our Digital Future contain? Let’s first throw out some big topics, and then do a deep dive on one or two. The following technologies will directly affect accounting in the near future: Big Data, Cloud Computing, On Demand Services, Virtualization, Consumerization, Gamification, Social Business, Wearable Computing, Intelligent Electronic Agents, Visual Communications, Location Awareness, Mobile Banking, 3D displays and machine to machine communications. Each one of these topics deserves a blog post by itself, and each one will make its way into your accounting practice over the next few years.

Let’s start with gamification. Gamification uses game-thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage users and solve problems. Gamification will fuel a fast-moving trend, using advanced simulations and skill-based learning systems. These systems are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like and competitive, all focused on giving the user an immersive experience, thanks to realistic 3-D interfaces.

We see evidence of this in many applications today, including QuickBooks® Online. The transaction download is set up in such a way that matching transactions is somewhat “game-like.” Even though there is a lot of intelligence to match transactions and simplify the process, having the matching process structured in what I consider“interesting” makes the routine task less boring and error prone. It is also interesting to note that the top 25 selling iPhone apps in 2013 are all games! If the developer has completely thought through the gamification in the application, there is frequently a social component that includes sharing. This helps drive success.

Gamification also shows up in user interfaces. Again, citing QuickBooks Online as an example, think about how painful collections can be. The use of green for good, red for bad and yellow for caution, just like our traffic lights, helps gamify analyzing past due receivables. Most importantly, it is easier to spot trends because the software applications are using something that we are already familiar with as part of the interface.

Most of us are still in the habit of working at a computer from our office desk, home or at a client’s site. We gravitated toward smartphones and tablets for their weight, portability, instant-on and access to information from anywhere. However, some of us have begun using these mobile technologies less because they have not proven to be faster to do our normal work, the applications available still seem too limited, the applications are still evolving to become more efficient and at times seem awkward and we really need a faster way to enter data. Nevertheless, we will eventually get Intelligent Electronic agents that can effectively recognize our voice and enter data faster than we can from a keyboard.

We expect the ultimate portable computing technology to be more like the experimental Google Glass, or the now-released Pebble watch. These products interface with our cell phones, yet extend the portable technology to make it more usable. We’ve also noted users gravitating to larger smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Note. Users of these larger phones explain to us that they can eliminate their tablets, using the larger phone for most portable uses.

When it comes to production work, users revert to their MacBook Air or UltraBook, which is only marginally heavier than a tablet and keyboard combination. Commuters in New York City tell us that large tablets are actually a problem on the subways, and the 7” form factor or a large phone work much better in the crowds. We predict that at least 10 different wearable technologies will be released by the end of 2013.

Does that smartphone and laptop that you’re carrying seem a little dated?

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series that Randy will write for Intuit Accountants News Central. Do you have a topic you want him to write about or a question for him to answer? Provide a comment below, and he will consider your suggestions and answer your questions.

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  • About Randy Johnston

    Randy Johnston Randy Johnston has been an entrepreneur, technologist, and teacher for most of his career. He has helped start and run many businesses, and currently owns part of both Network Management Group, Inc. and K2 Enterprises. Randy is not afraid to tackle a business management problem or to get his hands dirty answering a low-level technical question. He is best known for his early and on-going expertise in networks including LANs, WANs, Intranets, Extranets and the Internet. His expertise has grown to touch virtually every technology in the marketplace. He is particularly well known for his technology update overview, accounting software, and paperless office expertise. He helps businesses with strategic technology planning, accounting software selection, document management selection and planning, and business continuity planning. He has the ability to make complex technology understandable to any person. No wonder he is often referred to as The Last Renaissance Man. He has consulted for most leading technology companies in the U.S. Randy still likes answering questions one-on-one so he can fulfill his personal mission: To help as many people as possible to use technology in the way that benefits them most. He always takes time away from work to enjoy his family, church and civic organizations. See all of Randy's articles…

    You can also visit Randy's Website

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