Editorial team AccountingWEB.co.uk
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Cloud computing

Cloud Watch: March of the bots, Part 3

1st Sep 2016
Editorial team AccountingWEB.co.uk
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AccountingWEB’s August Cloud Watch kicks off with a tip of the hat to the crew at Accountex, who earlier this year created a very handy visual guide to accountancy’s add-on ecosystem.

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March of the bots, Part 3

31 Aug - Every accounting software developer, it appears, needs to have a bot.

Maybe it’s silly season, but this summer has been marked by an outbreak of accountingbots. Dutch-owned ERP developer UNIT4 pioneered this hot new trend back in April with a demonstration of its intelligent digital assistant.

Using Skype text message interface on his mobile phone, UNIT4 Global head of presales Thomas Staven submitted a timesheet, scanned in a variety of expense claims and requested a new laptop using the tool.

Responding to Microsoft’s claim that “bots are the new apps”, Sage got in on the act by launching its own bot, Pegg, at its Summit event in Chicago in July.

News has reached us from San Francisco that Xero is keen not to miss the bot boat either. At its recent US Xerocon, CEO Rod Drury demonstrated a Facebook text messenger bot during his product keynote. The Xero bot is still a prototype, but is not slated for commercial release yet. Xero UK managing director Gary Turner described it as a “concept tool”  that showed how “everybody is cottoning on to the significance of bots”.

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Etsy partnership prompts Quickbooks updates

15 Aug Intuit has introduced enhancements to Quickbooks self-employed which include mileage tracking and a mobile app to capture receipts, as the accounting software group partners with e-commerce website Etsy.  

Designed to simplify sellers’ self assessment, Intuit has launched a mobile app which allows freelancers and self-employed to track and log mileage, capture expenses, send invoices faster, and categorise business and personal transactions.

These new features were created to cater for the sharing economy workforce, like those who use Etsy. The partnership informed Intuit’s move to provide the online sellers with cash flow data so they can instantly see their total expenses and profits. The news of the update arrived on the same day as the government unveiled its Making Tax Digital consultations.  

According to Etsy’s director of business Morgan Blake, the partnership will provide a solution to the accounting and tax challenge. “Our partnership with QuickBooks Self-Employed provides Etsy sellers with an easy and affordable way to track their sales, manage their expenses and simplify finances so that they can devote even more time to their craft,” he said.

Commenting on the partnership, Intuit’s VP Rich Preece said: “We’ve worked hard to understand and solve the issues that affect this workforce and we know that managing finances can be very overwhelming and time consuming.”

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Accountex maps add-on market

10 Aug - Credit where credit is due. The team behind Accountex USA has come up with a very handy guide to popular cloud accounting add-ons.

The Accounting Technology Ecosystem v2.1 guide is a PDF file showing the logos for 300 tools and companies organised into 27 functional sections. The guide has been kicking around since February, but we only noticed copies circulating in the UK after version 2.1 was released in June.

New categories have been added to the latest edition for field service management and some entries have been reclassified or moved. Receipt Bank, for example, seems to have caused some confusion and has been moved from “CAS” (scanning tools) to OCR/Data Entry, even though the Reciept Bank insists that what it offers is a bookkeeping management system.

On closer inspection there are a few other anomalies. UK tax and practice software developers such as TaxCalc and BTC are listed, but even they would admit they’re only peripherally involved in the cloud accounting ecosystem at the moment.

On the Accountex USA website, Kaycee Johnson admits that the ecosystem is a work in progress that will continue to be updated based on reader feedback and the evolution of software in different fields. “When looking to adopt a new technology, it is always a good idea to vet the organisation and perform some standard due diligence before moving users/clients to the system,” she wrote in a post that includes more detailed instructions on how to go about it.

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Zoho adds analytic capabilities to Zoho Books

3 Aug - Zoho Books continues to work on features that will appeal to international accountants, including more sophisticated reporting functionality.

During the past month, US cloud bookkeeping developer upped its game with an advanced analytics add-on to work with the company’s business intelligence module, Zoho Reports. The add-on synchs with data in the Zoho Books application and has a menu of more than 70 pre-packaged templates and dashboards.

The add-on also has drag-and-drop interface that allows users to apply filters and create their own ad hoc reports and dashboards.

The the new app actually appeared in mid-July, but since then Zoho has also introduced a tagging system for Zoho Reports. The company explains that businesses can categorise transactions to create custom reports for different units or product types based on the tags. Or they can introduce tags for particular transaction types such as estimates, sales orders, purchase orders, credit notes and so on to speed up access to that information.

As we reported in March, Zoho has come a long way since it was introduced to the UK five years ago and is continuing to beef up its challenge to more established names in this country. Can any AccountingWEB members shed light on how well it caters for business users in this country?

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