What’s “the next big thing” in going digital?
Two of the biggest things are cloud computing and highly integrated suites. Some firms are already taking advantage of what’s being offered today, but these will become industry standard in the next few years.
Cloud computing is the next technology paradigm. The term “cloud” is a metaphor for the Internet, and cloud computing occurs when your software and data are hosted remotely and accessed via the web. As an industry, it’s estimated to reach $42 billion by 2012 or nearly half the entire software business. About one-third of high-performing firms already use software-as-a-service applications, which operate in the cloud. More than onehalf expect to be doing so within three years.
How is CCH managing the shift?
Last year, CCH introduced a SaaS version of its ProSystem fx Suite, which delivers all the benefits of cloud computing, and exemplifies the suite concept by providing significant new levels of integration and leverage through such features as a common client database and single administration manager. CCH also launched IntelliConnect in 2009, our intuitive information platform that enables anywhere, anytime research, and integrates tightly with ProSystem. The benefits to firms are significant: they report seeing improved efficiency and time savings, improved business continuity, better client service and convenience, lower cost of ownership and capital expenses, improved application portability and easier software deployments.
As for suites, historically, software vendors focused on best-of-breed solutions, which provided limited, if any, point-to-point integration with other applications. However, being able to support end-to-end workflows as CCH does calls for highly robust and integrated software suites. This integration across the workflow is essential to accounting firms since integration yields leverage, which in turn yields profitability. It gets at the core of a firm’s business.
How much money can going “paperless” make or save for a firm?
Industry figures estimate a paperless strategy can yield savings of 30 to 40%. Some of the savings comes from reduced overhead costs, such as what you spend on paper or real estate expenses, while others come from the increased efficiency from working digitally. Every firm is different and the extent to which they go digital varies, but a paperless strategy will reduce costs and improve profitability, even in ways firms haven’t considered up front. It’s a nice surprise to achieve more than you expected.
Any examples of firms actually making or saving money?
On the cost side, there are a lot of different ways to save. For example, one of our newly digitally based customers reports saving $14,000 over two years solely on reduced paper costs.
There’s also the improved realization I mentioned earlier. One of our customers reports it’s taking them about one-half the time to complete a corporate return in their new digital environment as it used to in their paper-based setting, yet they’re still able to bill the same amount.
Mike Sabbatis is president of CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business. CCHGroup.com