Posted by John Thoreson on May 30, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How Cloud Tech Is Changing Accounting
Businesses have to keep up with rapidly evolving technology if they want to stay relevant in the industry. With that in mind, a paradigm shift in terms of software acquisition has happened in a way that companies no longer buy software as a product, but as a service (SAAS). Instead of a one-time investment coupled with upgrade costs, a company instead pays for monthly service. By understanding how cloud technology is changing the way businesses are run, specifically in the area of accounting, you’ll be able to see if it’s finally time for your company to take a leap and embrace the cloud.
The reason for the change in software paradigm is directly connected to the developments and advances in web and internet technology. For instance, instead of opting for external hard drives, a lot of people are now storing their data in Dropbox or Google Drive. The exponential growth of social media websites and apps also means that more and more people are going online. Soon enough, cloud-based financial apps caught on to the trend and are now becoming the norm.
Why Businesses Are Embracing Cloud Technology
A lot of businesses are jumping on the cloud bandwagon typically because of the following reasons:
- More controlled costs – in purchasing software as a product, one often has to pay a large amount of money upfront, and in some cases, hire additional IT professionals to make sure that the software plays well with the current hardware. Problems with the software or hardware could mean additional company expenditures. By going with cloud-based software, you get more consistent monthly expenditures, therefore making it easier to manage the company’s resources.
- Easy Access – cloud-based programs are accessible anywhere and are typically platform independent (can work with Windows, Mac OSX, or even Linux). In fact, you could even access them through almost any device, whether it’s your laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
- Seamless Software Integration – depending on the service you’ve availed, you probably won’t even have to do anything to make sure that the software applications you’re using work seamlessly together; cloud-based apps are easier to interconnect because of their cross-platform nature.
- Real-time Collaboration – cloud-based apps, unlike apps installed in a few company computers, can actually be used by more than one person. This allows several people to actually collaborate and work on a single file simply by using the same cloud-based app on different devices. Doing so allows people to access data in real-time while also modifying them and seeing the changes done by their co-workers.
- Scalable Services – software applications typically come with different versions, each with a specific set of features and corresponding price. The great thing about cloud-based apps is that you can easily add or remove services according to your company’s needs. For regular software applications, buying one means having to stick with that decision at least until the next upgrade.
With cloud-based accounting apps becoming more and more flexible and affordable, what was once only accessible to large corporations are now accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). One could easily choose the types of services needed to avoid wasting money on unneeded features. In a world where businesses continue to reduce operation and product costs, streamlining the features of software applications used can make all the difference.
For instance, here are some cloud-based accounting apps and what they can do:
- Xero – Xero is a cloud-based accounting app built for SMEs. Accountants who recommend Xero, however, have used it even with large corporations with relative ease. Its functional features include automatic custom invoicing, which allows you to produce invoices for clients quickly; zero software set-up required, which means that you don’t need to install any software to use it – just set up a username and password and you’re good to go; and lastly, a neat overview of your cash flow, therefore letting you easily monitor your finances.
- Receipt Bank – Receipt Bank is an app that allows you to keep copies of your receipts to help you manage your finances more efficiently and effectively. What’s awesome about this app, however, is how it works beautifully in tandem with Xero so that you don’t waste time collecting receipts.
- Salesforce CRM – Salesforce CRM (Customer Relationship Management) lets you keep track of your company’s projects, clients, and other important details typically splattered across documents and emails. By centralizing a lot of important company data, you spend less time rummaging through information and more time innovating.
As you can see, cloud technology has drastically changed the world of accounting for the better. From ubiquitous data access, to seamless third-party application integration, to better security, to consistent updates, cloud-based apps have proven to be much more cost-effective than regular software applications. By learning to embrace the cloud, you’re one step closer to reaching the sky. read more
Posted by John Thoreson on Jan 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Apple Looking Into Virtual Reality
This could be exciting news for fans of the now fallen-from-grace Oculus Rift, and those interested in virtual reality machines in general. Apple appears to be getting more and more serious about researching and developing cutting edge virtual reality technologies! Early this year, they signed on Doug Bowman, a top virtual reality researcher and professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, as part of their staff. He also acted as the director of the university’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction. This shrewd head hunting move could bring Apple the expertise and experience necessary to catch up with rivals like Microsoft, Facebook, and Samsung Electronics that have been, as of yet, edging them out of virtual reality advancements. It looks as though Apple is now showing its teeth and getting down to business to make up for lost time.
About Dr. Bowman
Bowman’s work in academia has given him a strong background in topics related to virtual reality, such as human-computer interaction, computer science, three-dimensional user interface design, and the benefits of immersion in and interaction with virtual environments. Just a few months ago, Bowman, along with one of his colleagues, were bestowed with a $100,000 research grant from Microsoft to assist them in researching the collaborative analysis of large-scale mixed-reality data using a Hololens virtual reality device.
Several companies have already made advancements on Virtual Reality devices that far outpace Apple’s achievements in the field. Time will tell if this new hire can make a significant difference in Apple’s involvement in the Virtual Reality arena.
Facebook made waves in 2014 when it bought out the then-grassroots company Oculus that was famously developing a crowdfunded virtual reality headset dubbed the Oculus Rift. It acquired this startup company at the price of 2 billion USD, but has yet to realise any profit, as the coveted virtual reality headset is only now available for preorder, with the actual production date still a long way off.
Samsung is manufacturing the Gear VR headset, which is being marketed as an all new way to experience movies and games in conjunction with its own brand smartphones. The Gear headset uses some of Oculus’s technology, but takes it in a very different direction.
Google Glass has been a highly publicised and at times even controversial piece of technology, but it is not technically a virtual reality device. Google Glass displays only a small “heads up display” with information that is overlaid over the users actual naked-eye view of “real” reality. It acts as a supplement to our actual reality, and not a “replacement” for it, as other more immersive headsets seek to become. Google does have a clever, though low budget contender in the VR market, though. It consists of a viewfinder made of cardboard into which you can slip a smartphone to experience stereoscopic VR imagery. It’s good for a few laughs and to get an idea of what virtual reality is like, but it’s certainly no competition for the higher end VR machines.
However, even Google’s cardboard cutouts are a step above what Apple currently has on offer in terms of virtual reality machines. In February of last year, Apple was granted a patent originally filed in 2008 on what seems to be a virtual reality headset, but there has been nothing but static since then. Truthfully, Apple has really been falling behind in the virtual reality game and it may be too late now for them to catch up with the other companies that already have years of experience under their belts. Hopefully this new hire represents Apple’s rekindled interest in the field and will lead to big things in the future! read more
Posted by John Thoreson on Jan 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Chromebook Sales Soar At the Expense of Other PCs
Despite their timid start on the market, Chromebooks are now gaining in popularity at an almost alarming rate. Where sales of Chrome PCs accounted for only 1.9% of all computer sales in 2014, in 2015, that number rose to 2.8%, and it’s set to rise again in 2016. Shipments of Google’s Chromebooks are now syphoning sales from more traditional options like Windows or Mac laptops and even desktops. This growth in sales may be attributable to the Chromebook’s low price, simplicity, and lightweightness, which makes it a perfect choice for students, casual users, and anyone on a bare bones budget.
Let’s Talk Numbers
According to statistics from the International Data Corporation, over the entire year of 2014, 5.86 million chromebooks were sold. In just the first 3 quarters of 2015, 5.7 million were sold. If Chromebook sales keep growing at this rate, they will soon have a corner on the market. The total amount of PC sales worldwide from all brands was just over 276 million in 2015, which represents a 10.4% decrease in computer sales, which is the largest slump since 2008.
From Humble Beginnings
As mentioned before, the Chromebook had a less than astonishing first showing when the products launched in 2011. Things really kicked off in 2013 with the unveiling of the second generation of Chromebooks. As more and more PC manufacturers came out with their own version of the Chromebook, their popularity continued to increase. Now, all major PC manufacturers offer at least one laptop or desktop with the Chrome OS, except for Apple.
How to Use
Chrome OS provides a pretty basic, web-based computing environment for the casual user. There are no programs to be downloaded or software to be installed. It is this simplicity that allows it to be so well priced, and why many people have come to love their Chromebooks. At first it can seem like a bit of a shock, but if most of what you do with your computer is web browsing, word processing, or other light tasks, you will soon get used to Chrome’s sleek and simple operating system. In fact, it can be the perfect solution for people who find themselves calling on their favourite IT support provider in London a little too often. It drops all the bells and whistles in favour of a more straightforward user experience.
What Does the Future Hold?
The future is, of course, uncertain, but Chromebooks seem poised to ride out this slump in PC manufacturing better than its counterparts at Microsoft or Apple. Their sale numbers continue to rise even as the overall market is trending downward. I think that as more people come to realise all that the Chrome OS has to offer, at such a low price tag, it will continue to pick up steam and gain more and more popularity. read more