Top Technological Resources Which Accounting and Finance Professionals Cannot Miss
Present business environments across the world are witnessing two broad phenomenon's. First, is the growing entrepreneurship and consequently the rise of numerous Small and Medium sized businesses. The second phenomenon relates to the use of cutting edge technology resources across the whole business domain, big or small - often delivered and supported from offshore providers.
The growing importance of technology for small and medium business cannot be overstated, as it is precisely this phenomenon that has enabled them to compete with their larger counterparts. Hence an idea of utilizing the latest mediums such as "cloud computing" which can bring competence, productivity gains, cost savings, and ultimately more business owners are now considering these options.
Let us consider in brief the top technological domains that may benefit any business, particularly Accounting and Finance professionals:
Cloud Computing Technologies: As an accounting professional you may be using a number of application such as QuickBooks and Peachtree Accounting and Financial management software, Tax Software such as Lacerte, Proseries, ATX, Drake or Ultratax or CRM software such as ACT! by Sage. But the management of them locally consumes a lot of IT support cost, needs to be backed up buy IT support infrastructure such as Servers, Backup facilities as well as online network security tools. This is here that Cloud Computing Technologies comes to your rescue.
Not only Software as a Service (SaaS) is a reality now, but now thanks to Cloud Computing technologies we are witnessing the phenomenon of Hardware as a Services (HaaS). No need to have huge local network upfront costs for technology infrastructure and support. Now get all the application(s) you require hosted on third party terminal servers as a monthly service giving you and your staff (and clients if required) anytime anywhere access to your network, Assured Backup, high levels of security as well as 24x7x365 support, fixed cost - thus you saving time, money and at the same time enhancing productivity.
Real Time Collaboration: Now the trend in the internet is growing more towards real time multi-user collaborative work among a number of users. Also many different type of collaborative tools are converging in single applications. Google wave is an example in place which is messaging, document sharing, and application sharing all merged into one. But relevance for specific multiuser collaborative services have not decreased and now we expect even greater adoption rates of these types of services. Microsoft Office Online and Google document and Google sites are an example. One of the most user friendly "web based" documents sharing offerings I have discovered is DimDim.
Social Media Tools: Web 2.0 technologies have revolutionized the way we manage communication with others. The prolific growth of social media tools has ensured that any business can have its presence on the internet, which is an important marketing channel, if a proper concerted effort is made. As against other forms of advertising, participation in social media is many time more effective and ensures that any small and medium business can have proper advertising, branding and reputation management in an easy manner. Some of the important social media sites are
· Digg, Delicious, and Faves among few which are news bookmarking sites.
· Flickr and YouTube for Video submissions, Slide share for PPT sharing and Squidoo for having your company’s pages published.
· Technorati and Type pad : blogs
Social Networking: As against Social Media tools where one submits links, news and resources, social networking is an online community building process. The idea is to have frequent interaction among likeminded users to share knowledge, interest and at the same time promoting your services. The knowledge you share must be relevant and usable to the groups and is an exercise towards online reputation management as well as creating awareness about you business brand. Besides this social networking also helps driving traffic to you business website.
Some of the important sites are: Linked in professional network, Face Book, MySpace and a lot of vertical specific interest sites.
Web 2.0 Tools: There are innumerable web2.0 tools that enable you to keep yourself abreast of latest business trends or information relevant to your interest.
· Widgets: are multipurpose application that may be installed on you browser and may help you use them for specific area of you interest. For example I-Google.
· Mashups: are news gathering applications which show updates from various sources at one place.
· Rss feeds: RSS feeds have emerged into an effective tool for gathering useful information for sites or sources you are interested in. All the useful information is received into your mail or you can use i-google to display all the information at one place.
These Social media tools are as important for any business that seeks to enhance their business using online medium. But they are more important for accounting professional as they need to keep themselves abreast of latest trends in the market.