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It’s the Accountechies 2023

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AccountingWEB presents the best, worst and weirdest stories from the world of accounting technology in 2023, featuring tax dating apps, Lotus 1, 2 and 3, and mind-control fungus.

20th Dec 2023
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Welcome to the inaugural Accountechies, the awards for outstanding achievement in accounting technology in 2023. And by outstanding, we mean that in the broadest of terms.

In keeping with the light-hearted nature of these awards, we’ve asked our resident artificial intelligence (AI) image bot to create an accounting technology trophy, resulting in the frankly terrifying visual above (and proving AI still can’t do hands).

So pour yourself a crème de menthe and Baileys mixer, put another tax return on the fire, sit back and enjoy the best (and worst) accounting technology had to offer over the past 12 months.

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Understatement of the year: From representin’ at the King’s coronation to suggesting the phone lines would be less busy if everyone just stopped calling, it’s been quite a year for HMRC big cheese Jim Harra. Sir Jim rounds off the year with some silverware, thanks to his admission to a committee of MPs that HMRC might, perhaps, maybe, have underestimated the amount of work needed to get Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment across the line.

Most-read story of the year: While the Accountechies taketh away, they also giveth. Congratulations to HMRC for taking the top spot on the most-read story list, not just for the technology desk but the entire site, with news that individual taxpayers can now view their national insurance confirmation letter online and decipher the tax code without having to log in to an existing account. Genuinely useful updates based on real needs rather than accountant-baiting ideology? To go all ABAB for a moment, “Please Jim, can we have some more?”

The hype-cycle busting most-used, misunderstood and misused term of the year award: Do I even need to write the winner? [YES! It’s artificial intelligence – Ed] 

Tax dating app of the year: A tough choice in this not-at-all niche category, but bravo to Tax Heaven 3000, which beat off the competition with promises to provide a “one-of-a-kind dating sim experience that really does your federal taxes”. Of course, the whole thing turned out to be an elaborate art project designed to troll Intuit, but all’s fair in love and taxes.

The Elon Musk rebrand of the year award: Three cheers for the accounting and umbrella company group formally known as Optionis for leaving behind the brands it acquired for [checks notes] more than £80m and rolling them all up as Caroola Group. According to a press release, the professional services provider has rebranded to “help simplify its offering and provide greater support to contractors, sole traders and small businesses”, and has absolutely nothing to do with [checks ICO reprimand] inadequate security policies that allowed ransomware hackers to extract thousands of pieces of client information and leak them on the dark web. Nothing to do with it at all.

Sign o’ the times award: Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon prison design allowed a single security guard to observe all prisoners of an institution without the inmates knowing whether or not they were being watched. Now accountants can travel back to the 1780s with software designed to record all employee keystrokes and clicks and monitor every program they use. One Canadian firm recently reaped the benefits of such tracking tools, triumphing over a former employee who had to compensate them for “time theft” thanks to evidence provided by the software. Long live the new flesh!

The “what would you say you do here” interviewee of the year award: Commenting on a story about an accountant who had inflated their software credentials to land a job, AccountingWEB member MJShone provided the perfect cautionary tale: “My husband asked someone in an interview if they could use Lotus 123 (it was a long time ago!). They replied that they knew Lotus 1 and 2 but not 3.”

The David Attenborough natural-history-accounting technology crossover award: Mulling over metaphors for document management tool FYI’s integration with compliance mongers CCH on a recent podcast, Beever and Struthers’ tech brain John Toon called upon the natural world for inspiration. And what better comparison could there be than a zombie fungus that takes over ants’ bodies to eventually control their minds? 

The Tom Herbert most confusing headline of the year award: What would a made-up awards ceremony be without an editorial mea culpa? While this article attempted to tackle a reader’s question about remote working and privacy, as pointed out by several readers, the headline, ‘Is working remotely in breach of GDPR?’ could be read differently as a call-to-arms for all workers to down tools or risk the wrath of the ICO. My apologies, dear readers.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment on the tech desk articles, or got in touch to flag issues or suggest stories. Enjoy the festive season and I’ll see you in 2024 for more accounting tech fun and frolics.

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