It Will Never Catch On

Issue 24

On 1 June CS Accounting celebrates 25 years in business, where has the time gone? So I feel the need for a little bit of reminiscing. How much has business changed in that time? Well, rather a lot.

Accounts are accounts and apart from legislative changes the basic principles date back to Luca Pacioli’s theories of 1494. The changes in the industry are mostly technology driven. In 1992, if you were lucky enough to own a mobile phone, it was the size of a brick, you had to pull up an aerial to answer it and you were lucky if you could find a signal. And it was literally just a ‘mobile’ phone, you could call someone and they could call you back.

Computers were becoming much more common place and those beautifully scripted leather bound ledgers I remember from my training were being replaced by the likes of Sage and Pegasus. Some years previously Pegasus was my first ever ‘computerised’ accounting system. Someone turned up and set up a couple of PCs, even networked them together! Then I was given a box containing several 5.1/4″ floppy discs (yes I am that old!) and told to sort it out. So after reading the accompanying instruction manuals from cover to cover about 8″ to 9″ thick in total my first accounts package was up and running. I think that’s where I started this fascination with having to know exactly how these systems work, how to manipulate them to suit whatever you want and ultimately how to break them!

You could use your Microsoft Office software to type letters and create spreadsheets but mostly your letter then got popped in the post box and you waited for the reply to turn up some time later. It wasn’t really until around 1997 when the dot com boom took off that there was a huge surge in email and websites and the use of that new fangled internet thing for business.

From then the technology has really pushed ahead. That glossy printed brochure that once advertised your business is now a website or a Facebook page that can be changed instantly to reflect a new special offer or inform everyone of the latest industry news. Smartphones and tablets give you everything you need at your fingertips you can pay people, check the latest football results and order your tea just be pressing a few buttons.

That ‘computerised’ accounting software that was once installed on a huge beige box with a monitor that took up half your desk is now all in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Amazing software like Sage Live connects the whole of your business across the globe 24/7 and everything is there in real time. And it gives you awesome reporting at the click of a button.

So where are we going next? Well it has to be AI. You can already open your eyes on a morning and ask ‘Alexa’ what the weather is like and how your drive to work will be. Sage’s newest AI, Pegg, will soon also be able to tell you what your business bank balance is and who owes you money, it can already do it by messaging and voice recognition is coming soon.

There has been much made of the threat that AI will take over our jobs. I’m not convinced it will. People buy from people and there will always be the need for some sort of human intervention.Technology has only changed the way we work not completely replaced it and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

A long time ago as a mere articled clerk I saved up to buy the ‘latest invention’. It was a Texas Instruments Datamath, an electronic calculator and the ultimate in latest technology. I proudly took it in to the office and my boss took one look at it and said ‘it will never catch on’. How wrong could he be! Don’t ignore the technology, it’s here to stay and you can’t afford to be left behind.

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