What's getting the finance industry excited?
A Finance Director's view of Accountex
Accountex is the UK’s biggest accountancy exhibition and conference with 200 exhibitors and over 6,500 attendees over 2 days. As Finance Director at Equisys, I went along on for a few hours this year, primarily to get a view on what’s currently getting everyone excited in this space.
All about the cloud
In my opinion, the event was a bit too focused towards small to mid-sized accountancy practices. They have the looming issue of Making Tax Digital, which over time is likely to cut into their traditional revenue streams and hence they are, or should be, looking to find other ways of supporting their clients.
The exhibitors were, however, dominated by tech suppliers looking to demonstrate how cloud services, introduced and supported by practices to their clients, can help with this transformation.
Cloud accounting suppliers
There were lots of suppliers present, including Microsoft, Sage, QuickBooks, Xero, Exact, Iris, FreeAgent and My Digital Accounts, and all were focused on their cloud offerings. I’m unsure how some of the smaller players or new entrants are going to differentiate or compete against the low per-user pricing on offer from the big players in the market, but it’s clear that they must.
Cloud hosting and software as a service appears to now be fully accepted by accountants, particularly amongst smaller companies that don’t have the same requirements for a customised solution as it is often believed to be the case in the mid-market and upwards. Indeed, Xero and Quickbooks, with 1m & 2m online subscribers respectively, are demonstrating that this is the case. Microsoft are late to the party, but they are likely to be one to watch over the next few years, particularly in the mid-market space, with their feature-rich Dynamics 365 for Financials solution based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Other cloud applications which caught my eye were those aimed at both practicing accountants and company finance departments, focused on workflow, approval and expense management solutions. The ability to work effectively away from the office and across a variety of devices is clearly a benefit. Expense management for the enterprise is currently dominated by one company, but at the SME end, where relative simplicity and ease of management is critical, there are a few suppliers jostling for position.
Equisys has an expense management product, called Zetadocs Expenses, aimed squarely at SME companies whilst being designed on the latest technologies, making it robust and scalable. It is currently being sold as part of the Zetadocs product family via Microsoft Dynamics resellers in the UK & US with a key differentiator being its exceptionally tight integration with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which saves re-keying time and improves accuracy for the finance department.
To find out more about Equisys or our software products, visit our website.