The future is mobile ….don’t be left behind!
I get the impression that all youngsters these days seem to have a permanent new attachment to their bodies and get very moody and depressed when they have to remove it from sight or touch for even one minute – or is that just my daughter? The attachment – a mobile phone or other similar device such as an iPod. Walking through the train on a recent trip to London, there were more iPads in sight than laptops. The portable device has come of age and with it comes (nearly) constant access to the Internet. As these youngsters move on in life and go into business they will want to be able to interface and interact in the same way and not be tied to a desktop.
Increasingly, the adult population is moving in that direction too.
On a mobile device (other than perhaps an iPad or similar table device), accessing full web sites is possible, but can be slow and not all web sites are optimised for mobile devices.
What people seem to want is an “app” (proven by the number of apps downloaded). A mobile app is simply a small computer program designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Apple statistics in June 2014 quoted over 1.2 million apps in the app store, over 75 billion downloads and 300 million hits to the store every day!
The app market for business is changing and what was once considered perhaps a gimmick is now fast becoming a tool for clients or customers to interface with a business or accounting practice.
Let’s look at apps for accounting practices. My own firm’s app comes from myfirmsapp.co.uk. No chance of forgetting their name then!
Up until recently we, as a firm, produced printed tax tables and rates (tax and NI bands, Tax rates, stamp duty rates etc.) for clients and contacts. We still get asked for a printed version by probably as many as 2 people in a year…! However this is something that is highly suited for display in an app.
But the app does not display just static data. There are links to various calculators such as company car tax or the benefits of incorporation or a payroll calculator. As with all such calculators, the results should be considered a guide only and appropriate professional advice should be sought.
The app however has links to other sites either provided via an interface – clicking on a button takes you to that product or site, or is integrated within the app, so they do not have to leave the app to deal directly with a third party site. An example of this is Receipt-bank for processing receipts or a link straight into Xero online accounting.
So the practice app is becoming a “one stop shop” – where everything you need is accessed from one app with no need to have separate apps for each required task.
With ever increasing products being developed as wholly cloud based or with existing products having a cloud element it is highly likely that there will be other facets added to apps in the future.
Nothing is impossible in IT these days-some things just take a little longer than others to come to the table, and I know that bespoke development of firms’ apps is being undertaken. I have spoken to our app provider myself with a couple of ideas!
Don’t bury your head in the sand and think mobile will go away – it will just grow and grow!
Want to know more? ICAEW will be launching product reviews/endorsements shortly and apps will be the first to appear.
What are your reasons for not having an app?
What successes have you had as a result do having a firm app?
What would you like to see in your firm’s app that is not currently available?