Hailed as a conference to ‘future-proof’ your practice, IRIS World featured news of a number of October releases and aspirational accountant stories at an event largely pitched at customers feeling the legislative upheaval hitting the profession.
As the roadshow kicked off in Twickenham, IRIS announced the release of IRIS Snap, an app for Kashflow customers, the opening of IRIS Accounts Production to non-IRIS bookkeeping packages and the rollout of an end-to-end Making Tax Digital compliant solution.
Earlier this year, IRIS staked its market position with an appearance before a House of Lords committee to discuss tax digitalisation, while at the event the software house leveraged its market leader claims by noting that 17,000 of the 35,000 UK accountants are on IRIS software.
‘Future-proof your practice’
With the connected world likely to affect all of its customers in some shape or form, the CEO of IRIS accountancy division Sion Lewis set out in his keynote how the software house plans to empower and digitally engage accountants.
A straw poll before the keynote showed the need to do this, with 37% of the delegates placing Making Tax Digital as their top priority over the next 12 months. And the future-proof theme of the event was predicated on IRIS’s ‘voice of the accountant’ survey, which found that 79% of accountants believe their practices’ reliance upon technology will increase over the next three years.
To illustrate the benefits of embracing digitalisation, Lewis invited a number of IRIS customers such as Kevin Whitehouse, Will Farnell and AccountingWEB member Marks on stage to share their stories. And later in the day IRIS chief evangelist Steve Cox further assuaged any fear surrounding digitalisation with an introduction to how fast-moving tech such as machine learning is already ubiquitous in our lives, and future gazed at how AI will transform auditing.
Traditionally IRIS had been a locked product, but with the October release of IRIS Connector users will be able to integrate bookkeeping solutions such as Xero and QBO with IRIS accounts and taxation. “We will work with any digital platform,” Lewis said. “This is the future of accountancy.” Combined with IRIS Connector, the software house will release an improved CSV import wizard.
In another October release, IRIS Accountancy Suite has been updated to incorporate several significant user experience improvements to the time and fees module.
Compliance has been the bedrock for the software house, which is why a move like this to allow accountants to use their bookkeeping package of choice and still benefit from the reliability of IRIS compliance software has attracted accountants such as Will Farnell back to IRIS.
“Compliance is king,” said Lewis, who highlighted the work IRIS has done making FRS “seamless”. And, as Lewis said, MTD is the new FRS. Although the government has slowed the pace of Making tax Digital developments, Lewis assured delegates that IRIS has not.
To back this up, Lewis announced that IRIS and PTP will be the first end-to-end MTD ready product, offering quarterly filing from October 2017. Lewis commented: “As the first Making Tax Digital accountancy suite to enable accountants to file quarterly submissions, we are in the best position to equip accountants to become more efficient and productive than ever before, simplifying their lives so they can focus on attracting new clients and growing their businesses.”
Lewis revealed in a press briefing that a ‘freemium’ MTD solution was not something the software company is currently working on.
To help digitalise clients and free up time for accountants, Lewis announced the availability of IRIS Snap, which is available for Kashflow customers.
Designed to take pictures from smartphones of business records, IRIS Snap removes the need for manual data entry for both small businesses and accountants. IRIS said the product capitalises on the changing behaviour of smartphone usage – according to the 'voice of accountants’ survey 52% of accountants use, or would consider using, a mobile accountancy app in the future.
IRIS Snap uses an outsourced India team to code the images for accuracy. Furthermore, firms can white label the product.
In a statement, Nick Gregory, chief product and marketing officer at IRIS, commented: “Smaller businesses do not want the administrative overhead of bookkeeping, yet readily embrace the on-the-go use of mobile apps to manage their business. Offering an app for small businesses to capture digital records, combined with a bookkeeping service based on KashFlow, simplifies the lives of small businesses and accountants alike, making them both more efficient and productive.”
Customer excellence and the future
It was not just digitalisation on the agenda, as Lewis set out his ambition for IRIS to be the “John Lewis to accountancy” when it comes to customer excellence.
In order to do this, Lewis pledged 20% more support staff. He acknowledged some of the wait times had been unacceptable and guaranteed a three-minute wait time, with the aim to cut this to two minutes next year.
Lewis rounded up the keynote with a look at how some of the company's acquisitions will shape IRIS going forward, such as the intelligence from PS Financials used to unlock real-time data and analytics.
Look out for more IRIS World coverage in the coming days, including an interview with Sion Lewis and Steve Cox.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.