When it comes to cloud business, London, Central and Eastern England firms are adventurous first adopters, demanding ‘always on’ connectivity to take advantage of cloud computing and gain a competitive edge. This new research comes as Sage launches Sage One Accounts Extra, an online accounting service for small businesses that want to manage international trade easily, control how they share accounts data with trusted colleagues and get real insights into their finances and future with business forecasts.
Far from sitting in dusty paper-filled offices, accountants are already pretty computer-savvy when it comes to managing clients online. Over a third (35%) are investing in online business software and offer remote or mobile services. With their feet firmly on the ground, they’re adopting a deft mix of traditional and hybrid online working practices to keep pace with changing business models. Yet with 73% of accountants relying mainly on purely desktop software, there is a huge opportunity given the scale and appetite revealed by businesses who have high hopes to be managing their accounts through cloud solutions in the near future.
New research from Sage UK of more than 400 business owners, directors and decision makers reveals that although business are happy to head online and are familiar with the cloud from Facebook and Twitter, when it comes to business software there is reluctance amongst their accountants to adopt online time and money-saving processes as rapidly as their clients.
London (39%), Central and Eastern England firms (39%) are the ‘pioneers’ looking to invest online in the next year but Glasgow is chasing close on their heels (33%) as an emerging online hub with decision makers initially driving payroll (65%) and CRM (58%) online. The barriers preventing more businesses moving their processes online include security (41%), a lack of perceived technical experience within the business (20%), and simply not having had the time – 23% claimed to have just not gotten around to it yet – indicating that the cloud is on the horizon.
Business managers in the North and Scotland are more cautious when it comes to the bottom line – 61% in each area say they’d ‘sleep better at night’ when their processes and data are in the cloud. London’s Tech City is leading the business services revolution and is more au fait with cloud (81% understand it and 39% plan to invest more in the next twelve months) while Manchester is more of a science and innovation centre using and claiming less understanding of cloud services (74% understanding and 30% planning to invest).
Despite seeing the cost-saving benefits and high awareness of cloud computing, UK accountants are slow on the take up, with the vast majority (73%) still working from desktop software despite 51% of accountants receiving interest from clients in collaborative online working. 60% of businesses claim to not be able to work with their accountants whenever they wish.
Glasgow business leaders (33%) have their eye on the cloud and have higher expectations on its savings potential which they are keen to explore, while London is close behind. While one third of business owners in Central and Eastern England see a move to the cloud as a way of reducing office red tape (39% want to invest in the next twelve months), decision-makers in Manchester are happier with the status quo, sticking with desktop computing for now (32%).
The Sage research highlights that UK business is becoming more mobile and flexible than ever in a bid to secure a competitive advantage, with 62% of business responders requiring the ability to access their information and apps on-the-go over the internet at any time.
“Technology is empowering us with new ways to work and making us infinitely more connected,” commented Paul Tooth, Managing Director, Sage Accountants’ Division. “Online software helps people work in more like they’ve always wanted to, and our research shows accountants are looking for new ways of working more securely, more closely and more productively with their clients, but may benefit from moving at the speed their clients are pushing for.”
Sage One Accounts Extra is built on a global platform with added functionality that enables customers with enhanced forecasting tools, sophisticated cash flow management, better functionality of invoicing, bank integration, multi-currency support and payments integration, and importantly, support on all UK & Ireland VAT schemes. All of this, in addition to what Sage believes is the most intuitive and appealing user experience and interfaces on the market today, and all supported with Sage’s unrivalled free 24-hour support, on the phone, via email or on the web, giving business users and accountants access to Sage’s unrivalled infrastructure of professional expertise and software support whenever they need it.
“Sage One Accounts Extra helps you make the right decision for you and your practice without compromise, moving clients into the world of online software at a pace that is right for you both,” Paul concluded.
Mr Michael Tolan, Director at Langcliffe Ltd. Accountants said of the new functionality: “I am excited by the possibilities Sage One Accounts Extra offers as I am a great believer in the cloud. The extended reach means I’ll deliver a faster, higher-quality service to clients whilst saving them time and cutting down on less strategic meetings and journeys. I care passionately about great client service and this will help me retain and move clients to the vendor whom I regard as leading the market.”