Category Archives: Innovation

Do Add on Applications Add Up ?

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With increasing challenges facing businesses today, now is the time more than ever to apply focused effort to your business by working on it and not just in it. Taking time to explore the ever growing world of business Add On’s or App’s to enhance your business systems is vital.

At the hub of most businesses today is the Accounting/Bookkeeping software system and though there have been tremendous technological advancements over the past 10-20 years, the future is all about the new breed of Add On solutions.

Add On’s or Apps are essentially a solution that bolts onto, integrates or synchronises with your existing accounting software program relating to aspects of the business not provided by your main accounting software program.

Traditionally the void consisted of business processes that were considered “outside the scope or on the fringe” of the mainstream software providers. Large Software vendors haven’t been interested in developing numerous applications to support and maintain, whilst satisfying a relatively small percentage of their existing market. So filling this need has been taken up by smaller entrepreneurial software developers with the hope of leveraging off the already established databases of the major accounting software providers.

So what Add On applications are emerging? The following list details just some of the areas that we have seen Add On’s implemented into businesses in the last 12 months:

  • Mobile Time & Billing systems.
  • Rostering and Payroll Scheduling integrating with existing payroll systems.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
  • Web / Online & Facebook Store integration.
  • Manufacturing / job tracking / advanced inventory management.
  • Online email Marketing Systems / eNewsletters / Surveys.
  • KPI’s & Dashboards Business Reporting.
  • Backup and redundancy systems, offsite & automated.
  • Advanced management / business reporting.
  • Online point of sale.
  • Document Management.
  • Plus much, much more………

Add On’s are a great way of building your business systems and adding value to your business and ultimately helping you Buy Time. Make sure you do your homework before you decide to implement an Add On service into your business, some things to consider should include:

  • Does the Add On fully integrate with your mainstream Accounting / Bookkeeping System?
  • Is it a Cloud/Internet based application?
    • Where is the Data Stored and How is it Secured?
  • What is the reputation of the Solution Provider?
    • Perform online searches for ratings and reviews of the product and company.
  • Ask for testimonial sites and follow these up (preferably in your industry).
  • Does the software work with the Australian version of your Accounting software?
  • What local support is in place?

So what areas of your business could be streamlined with the use of an Add On Application?

Future Shock – is it here again ?

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Does anyone feel that the pace of technological change has taken an upswing in the past few years?

You’re not alone, many small business owners feel a sense of being overwhelmed with what they need to learn about just to keep up with the changes. One thing we can all be heartened by is that this feeling is nothing new to humanity and there have been many instances in the past where society has felt just as we are feeling right now.

“Future Shock” the term invented by Alvin Toffler in 1965 (later the title of his bestselling book in 1970), was used to describe the “shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”.

In reading this definition one would think that Toffler is describing the era in which we currently live and do business. What is enlightening is that there has always been change, it is our willingness to invest in understanding the change and forming a strategy to adopt and adapt to it that can lead to great success.

The other phrase worth noting is one called “Tipping Point” coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

Defined as “the moment of critical mass adoption of an idea, product or service. As Gladwell states, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses” at a certain point of adoption. The small business community is approaching such a point right now. The adoption of “Cloud Computing and e-Commerce” has been sweeping the globe and we are now starting to see the signs of a “Tipping Point” occurring in the adoption of such technologies.

So how do we take advantage of the “Tipping Points” and avoid the impact of “Future Shock” on our businesses? The Australian retail sector is currently dealing with both issues. Whilst everyone has seen the impact a highly geared consumer has had on retail spending, there are some retailers making a shift in the way they market and distribute their products and services. By embracing the internet and the efficiency gains it can offer small business they are enjoying success.

The internet has enabled some small, locally based retailers to market to the broader world. By implementing a well defined strategy and an effective e-commerce website they simplify the process for their existing and expanding customer base to buy online from them.

So whilst Future Shock is always going to happen – look for the approaching Tipping Points and gain a competitive advantage by embracing change and putting together a strategy to take advantage of it.

The Cloud ! – So What’s New?

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Imagine a world where the Bookkeeper, Accountant & Software Consultant for your business all actively work together and collaborate for the betterment of – YOU (and your business)…Well this new world is on its way brought to you compliments of “The Cloud”.

The evolution of Accounting (Business) Software technologies has undergone a complete 360 degree turn since the introduction of such applications back in the 1970’s. In the past 40 years we have seen 3 distinct phases in this evolution;

  • The 1960’s & 1970’s saw the adoption of centralised processing (using Mainframe computers) of Accounting/Bookkeeping information. The paradigm shift was to move away from paper/manual record keeping systems. The result was that the Accountant firmly controlled the General Ledger systems for your business.
  • The 1980’s – 1990’s saw the widespread use of the Personal Computer (PC). Along came the Integrated Accounting Software package the latest “must have” item for every small business – particularly since the introduction of GST in 2000. You (and your bookkeeper) became empowered and the paradigm shift was now you essentially controlled the General Ledger systems for your business.
  • The 2000s and beyond have seen the introduction of the internet and progressively faster and more reliable connections. The past few years have seen a massive uptake in mobile, connected devices from laptops, smart phones and tablet devices, connecting to business data via broadband at the office and next generation phone networks. The wrestle for control of the General Ledger can now cease with the ability for all parties (Business Owner, Accountant and Bookkeeper) working together and “Collaborating” on the single set of centralised data – “THE Client File” (no more emailing your software file to the Accountant). Now this is the biggest paradigm shift of all.

Having recently attended the Sleeter Conference (one of the world’s major Accounting Software Consultants / Bookkeeper / Accounting events) in the United States you got the feeling that the “Cloud Train” was just beginning to leave the station and now is the time to get on board. Doug Sleeter (a leader in Business Software Technologies) talked about the current “Paradigm shift in Accounting software technologies” and the way that the “Pendulum” is swinging back to the Mainframe, and “the internet is today’s Mainframe”.

So how can you prepare for this next wave of business technologies? One thing is to learn more about the cloud and think about its application for your business and how it could improve the value provided by your Bookkeeper / Accountant and Software Consultant. Each of these specialists offer complimentary services that can enhance your business performance via the use of the cloud. So – contrary to what you were told as a child – Now is certainly time to “Get your head in the cloud”.

How Disruptive is Your Business?

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There has always been a sense of being overwhelmed when it comes to technology and how to implement it in your business. Realistically the past 20 years saw a relatively small array of choice compared to what is on its way. The growth of online software applications is staggering, for example the App store, with over 700,000 apps, none of which existed 5 years ago.

Right now the small business marketplace is attracting the attention of hundreds of new developers hoping to design the next Killer Business App. The strategy for these new businesses in marketing their solutions is to tap into the phenomenon of Disruptive Innovation.

The Disruptive Innovation term was first coined by Clayton (no relation) Christensen in his 1995 article Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave, and refers to how a new way of doing things (invention) helps create a market and eventually goes on to disrupt and destroy the existing market.

Benefits to the consumer include lowering the price in the existing market. An example of Disruptive Innovation is the way we listen to music – the CD has been taken out by Downloadable Digital Media products (iTunes and the like – in 2011 Digital downloads overtook physical music sales for the first time ever).

Disruptive innovation is everywhere and sooner or later your industry will be challenged by it. The business software market (including Accounting Software) is experiencing this with the adoption of cloud based applications. Often the disruption initially effects only part of the business and whilst annoying, doesn’t seem to be part of a much bigger threat.

So why do existing dominant players allow these Innovative Disrupters to gain traction and threaten their existing market? Studies show whilst existing businesses are aware of the innovations they often stay out of it because there is no profit in such an initially small market and the cost of pursuing the small startup “competitor” is seen as an unprofitable exercise.

However the Small Startup (or Up Start as it is often viewed) begins to gain traction by offering what the market wants (or has wanted for some time) at a price that attracts the consumers attention. As momentum builds in the disruptive / innovative product or service then they begin to invade the space occupied by the traditional product and their producers. At that point the existing business usually tries to ward off the new comer by offering up a similar (me-too) product in order to compete and survive.

What Disruptive Innovation can you see appearing in your industry and how can you benefit from carefully weaving it into your existing business in order to thrive – not just survive.