Well the results are in. We have now completed our technology survey for the 8th year in a row. Some results are predictable such as the dominance of Windows 10 and the rise of Office 365.

How do you compare? Tech Survey 2018

Some results are encouraging such as the significant increase in adoption by accountants of security measures. Adoption rates for some things like two-factor authentication have almost doubled. Hopefully the crooks will be kept at bay. 

The move by clients to using cloud accounting apps continues. Half of firms are now reporting that they believe 75% or more of their clients will be using a cloud accounting app by the end of 2019. 

Xero has increased its popularity taking share from almost everyone. Interestingly, there has been a significant increase in the number of accountants stating that Xero is their preferred cloud accounting application. (There was quite a reduction in the number stating “no preference”). Of course, surveys like these can have a margin of error as the sample size is not high but it is an interesting trend.

One example of where the survey might have got it wrong in 2017 was that it reported a sharp decline in the usage of business advisory applications. That decline was reversed in 2018 with more than 50% of firms using applications for Cashflow/Budgeting, Tax planning, Scenario Planning, and Dashboard Reporting. 

It is of interest that of the social media platforms the usage of Facebook seems to be in decline. While there has been only a small decline in the number of people with accounts, usage seems to have declined significant - everyone too busy?

32% of firms are now paying for digital advertising. Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn get most of that money. Anecdotally, I hear firms achieving successful results from their digital marketing activities.  

There has been a big rise in firms making use of digital signatures but moving the firm to cloud applications is reported as making the biggest impact on firm operations. 

When looking at the challenges firms face in technology adoption it’s the people issues that continue to dominate. Client resistance and ensuring firms are getting the most out of the technologies they implement continue to be key issues. I am always surprised how little time firms spend on ongoing training in respect of technology. Most people are sitting in front of the machines every day yet we don’t do regular training to ensure they can be as efficient as possible.

Perhaps that training needs to start with an attendance at Accountech.Live in Melbourne on Nov 13-14. In this upgrade to our ATSA event that we sold to AccountTech.Live producers National Media, there are a host of opportunities to ensure that you’re up to date with all that is happening with technology for the accounting industry. 

Across the entire time of conducting our survey, the consistent and overwhelming wish has been for suppliers to open themselves up so that applications can be integrated together. We are seeing some inroads on that front with connector apps like Zapier but clearly, there’s a lot more to be done. The problem is worse than it should be due to the prevalence of many desktop legacy applications which were never designed with integration in mind. 

Capacity/Resource Planning and Workflow management was in the top 5 of the wish list for the first time. Many more firms are trying to become more sophisticated in how they plan and manage their workflow and are looking for solutions. CCH iFirm and Karbon are worth a look but many still pine for the now defunct BankLink Workflow Manager! Perhaps at Accountech.Live you’ll be able to discover the next must have application for accountants in practice from the over 70 solution providers. 

An honorable mention to the practitioner who wants to deliver the paperwork to clients who still demand paper by drone. 

I will be presenting the full results with more interesting findings at the Accountech.Live event in Melbourne. It’s free and on today (November 13-14). I look forward to seeing you there. 

David Smith will be presenting the 2018 Smithink Technology Survey results at 2.05pm on Day 2 of Accountech.Live - ATSA reborn!



David Smith