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Online software, big tools for small business

With cloud computing increasingly being seen as the simplest and most affordable way to gain access to business software and applications, you might be asking what’s in it for you?

The ‘cloud computing’ model would see all your business software and applications hosted online. Essentially all you need is the interface which could be a desktop computer, an iPad or even an Android device that would allow you to access your business programs over the internet.  The programs are hosted on third-party servers and in the ideal scenario the applications you choose to use would easily integrate with each other so you can quickly communicate with stakeholders, compare different elements of the business and spend less time re-keying information.

‘Cloud applications’ are offered on a subscription basis over the internet which can prove very cost effective. Paying on a subscription basis means when you no longer need it, you stop paying for it. You can also save costs by paying for added software licences when you need them, rather than paying upfront.

Managing financial data online

As part of the trend toward ‘cloud computing’, in the last 12 to 18 months in Australia we have seen a rise in accounting applications being made available online. Business owners can now securely store company data ‘in the cloud’ so it can be readily accessed from anywhere.

Reckon first hosted QuickBooks software in 2009 and there are now thousands of Australian businesses using the program online. This year our online offering has expanded to include the QuickBooks Hosted premium service for Mac, iPad, Android and PC users, and the new simpler software program CashBook Online. It’s our vision to offer an online environment or ‘cloud service’ that provides a full range of software products and applications that work together to provide faster processes and the key linkages that SMBs need to conduct business.

Faster, more accurate interactions

In the ‘cloud’ businesses can quickly connect with external agencies and stakeholders. Consider sharing data with your accountant, data files no longer need to be emailed or saved onto an external drive; the information is available over the internet so that the business manager/owner and the accountant or bookkeeper can access files simultaneously.

Standard Business Reporting (SBR™) enabled applications are a great example of complementary programs that are providing a real-time link to government agencies over the internet so that businesses can quickly compile and submit compliance documents. Hosted data storage and online superannuation compliance applications are also good examples programs that work alongside accounting software ‘in the cloud’ to improve how business interactions occur.

– Gavin Dixon is the CEO of Reckon Limited Business Division. Reckon is the Australian developer of QuickBooks and Quicken software.