Tag Archive: technology


It is difficult to find another role in today’s business world that has changed as rapidly as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Only a few years ago, IT heads were there to make sure the basic infrastructure to keep a business communicating was in place and up and running. So while they do have to maintain current and past systems, their new most important role is to drive internal and external innovation. And because innovation is increasingly technology-driven, the CIO is in a perfect position to lead this evolutionary revolution.

Role Diversity

The role of the CIO over the past few years has become more diverse and challenging. CIOs now need to cover a whole lot more ground and stay on top of a rapidly changing field defined by quick shifts and advances in technology, and to incorporate these new methodologies and applications into business.

This fundamental shift in the role of the CIO reflects the changes business environments undergo on many different levels. The single most important factor in CIO recruitment is what new, innovative and efficient solutions they can bring to the company. In stark contrast to the old image of the CIO they are now supposed to ‘wow’ the board with amazing schemes to facilitate company growth,performance, efficiency and collaboration with full user adoption and experience.

Collaboration

Since technology and infrastructure investment have become a central focus, the CIO’s role is becoming more integrated into business process than ever before. In the past, it was the IT department that controlled technology and infrastructure purchase decisions. But with application usability needs such as cloud-based technologies, social media, the abundance of mobile devices, purchase decisions have become more collaborative.

Previously the focus for the CIO was delivering IT solutions and infrastructure, but with minimal collaboration between the IT and other departments across the organization. Now the primary focus is for the businesses and CIOs to work collaboratively and adapt and adopt useful technology with the C-suite firmly on board. Not to mention the need to embrace new employee demands with user-driven technologies, BYOD and social media. Employees are now demanding the usability and mobility in their professional devices that they have with their personal ones.

CIOs need to be a true business partner and support their counterparts in delivering results and differentiation; to help Sales grow the business, to help Engineering deliver a better product to the market, to help our Marketing teams drive new business acquisition.

Bimodal approach

With these fundamental changes to the CIO role and the requirement to deliver both basic IT for an organisation while preparing it for new challenges around big data, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and up-skilling workforces, it may require a “bimodal” approach to IT.

The first accountability will remain as a conventional IT role and manage risk and governance; and the second accountability will be more creative with the need for innovation, agility and new skills.

What is becoming clear is that the mounting challenges at the crossroads between technology and business innovation are leaving CIOs in need of the right tools to enable positive change for their companies.

So in today’s world CIOs need to be agile and innovative to support the growth and performance of the company, they need to adopt a more collaborative approach with their C-Suite colleagues as well as carry out the more traditional tasks around purchasing decisions, risk and governance. So the CIO’s role must shift from protecting and defending the status quo to embracing and extending new innovative capabilities, it needs to transform into the Chief Innovation Officer. In order for CIOs to survive in this ever changing and challenging role they need an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Of course it is not the ERP system in itself that provides the innovation, it is the possibilities it creates through the delivery of better business intelligence that enables better decision making.

 

For more information about ERP Solutions and the changing role of the CIO download our whitepaper: http://www.sageerpx3.com/landing-page-cio

The conventional channel structure is being revolutionised by technology in an ever-evolving environment that requires channel partners to adapt to ongoing change and add value in new ways.

Laurica Kok, general manager and channel manager at Softline Pastel Payroll, part of the Softline and Sage Group plc, says technology and payment plans are driving the restructuring of rebates and subscription pricing is rapidly becoming a reality for software vendors. Technology and the Internet are playing a big role, bringing in online products that are changing the playing field.

“Technology is enabling do-it-yourself as opposed to services, with the internet as the key element in changing the way that organisations conduct business. Pastel Payroll’s channel partners have been very active in terms of sales but technology is ringing in changes that are leading to the structuring of new incentives for channel parters.

“The adoption of what many consider to be commoditised uses for the internet is seen as a steady evolutionary process and the switch from legacy desktop applications to the cloud is proving to be a gradual adoption rather than a rush to jump on the bandwagon.”

Pastel Payroll has started introducing new functionality and is making use of frictionless updates that enable traditional desktop applications to seamlessly update over the internet with minimal intervention from the end-user of the software.

“Customers no longer need to visit a website to download and install updates manually and install CD versions, the software now does it all for them. The days of CD-based updates and disruptive installation and implementation cycles are over,” says Kok.

“Generally accepted standard online applications – those which many people are comfortable using on a daily basis such as internet banking and online flight reservations systems, news feeds and social media sites are all being complemented by steady streams of new online business applications and services. The younger generation has a strong affinity with online business and payroll solutions, eliminating the traditional support and assistance models. Pastel Payroll has to keep up with the times and offer customers a variety of software solutions.”

“The technology boom has driven structural changes to evolve with the new trends and we have seen major movement towards subscriptions, monthly payment options and the development of a pay-as-you-go environment as longer term budgeting is increasingly implemented. We have had open discussions with channel partners regarding this changing environment as it requires different incentive structures,” said Kok

Traditional channel programs used to involve an upfront payment and an annual licence fee structure.  However, increasing numbers of customers are feeling the economic pinch and looking for monthly payment options with budgeting becoming longer term. “Pay as you go is also becoming a popular option with customers,” concluded Kok.

by Steven Cohen, managing director Pastel Accounting

Technology, like most things, operates in cycles; there are times when the changes taking place don’t really affect you and then there are times when so much is happening that it’s very difficult to grasp what can really benefit you.

And today, we find ourselves in one of those cycles where a fortune is happening and it’s all related to the internet, web, cloud, or whatever you want to call it.

With so much tech-activity, there’s a real possibility that you’ve chosen to shut out the noise and ignore it all but currently there are a number of trends that would benefit you and you’re probably missing out and starting to lag in you work environment.

I try and stay as current as I can. It’s easy for me because technology is one of my passions. So, what I’m going to do in this article is cut through the noise and tell you about some new technology I’ve been using that I think could be of benefit to you too.

 

It’s all in the cloud

Accountants are clever people, but I recently realised that the term ‘cloud computing’ is not as broadly understood as I had assumed. In some research that we conducted amongst professional accountants towards the end of last year it emerged that 77% of respondents have no understanding of what accounting in the cloud is but 53% said they would recommend an online accounting product to their clients. So, there’s obviously confusion out there because cloud computing and working with an online application is exactly the same thing.

 

Cloud computing 101

When we refer to the cloud we’re talking about where the program is hosted, or stored, and the answer is that it lives on the web and not your computer. It’s the same as your Facebook account where all your information is stored ‘somewhere on the internet’.

Facebook (although I am not an avid user) is a great example. When you’re using it, I guarantee that you don’t think about whether it’s the latest version or if the information you see is the most current. You just know that the answer is yes and that somebody clever ‘out there’ is taking care of everything!!

Well the ‘out there’ is the cloud! Perfectionists will criticise me for this – but the heart of the argument is that the cloud refers to the web or the internet – they’re basically the same thing.

 

Online accounting systems

Being a chartered accountant gives me a decent understanding of how accounting in the cloud can make life easier for everyone: clients and accounting practices.

I remember the early days when we would have to go to clients to perform the audit function, test samples, review source documentation, etc. Sometimes we would back up the client’s data, take it back to the office to work with it and then once complete, process our adjusting journal entries on the client’s live data.

So, imagine an accounting system where you can perform a material amount of audit work on your client’s live data from your offices – while the client is working on the accounting system at the same time. By simply logging onto your client’s system from anywhere you could perform any task, and imagine; no more time in the traffic!

Think of the time saved by preparing provisional tax estimates and producing an income statement from your office. Or being able to produce management accounts whenever you choose and simply emailing them to your clients. And when it’s convenient for you, reconciling live bank accounts and producing VAT returns while your client processes invoices concurrently.

I remember when our client accounting department would receive documentation from our clients whereupon we would enter all of their transactions on our own internal client accounting systems. In the internet world, this is no longer necessary.

Depending on the client’s size and skills, the accountant (who in most cases is offsite doing the books) could do all the accounting work while the client produces customer invoices, concentrates on stock control, collecting money, etc . And you will all be transacting real time on the same live system.

Because all the information for all of your clients would be in the cloud you would be able to take a bird’s eye view of multiple clients at the same time.

What this means is: no more year-end or month end procedures – ever – so you would be able to produce financials at any point in time no matter how far back you wanted to go. And because the data resides in the cloud, you could work from anywhere at any time that was convenient for you.

Another huge plus factor is that no software needs to be installed on your computer; you simply login through your browser. So it makes no difference whether you choose to work on your computer at work, or your computer at home, or a computer at an internet café or airport.

Consider the difference this could make to your life, your practice and your client’s life.

And best of all, everyone would be on the same version of the software all the time. It’s the same as internet banking. When you logon to your bank’s internet site, you’re always logging onto the current version.

Ok, so that’s accounting in the cloud.

 

Money or the box

Another extremely useful tool that I use is called Dropbox; a data keeper in the cloud.

People often get confused with Dropbox because the concept is a bit weird – but once you understand it, then the possibilities appear.

Imagine carrying a briefcase of documents around with you wherever you go. What’s good about it is you know that the document you are looking at is the same – because it comes out of the same briefcase. Dropbox allows you to do this, but without having to carry the briefcase.

Pretend you have an expense schedule spreadsheet called Expense.xls on your work computer. As you save it, Dropbox will send a copy of it to your personalised Dropbox in the cloud. It will then make a copy of it to all your other devices (even your mobile phone or iPad or Samsung tablet) where you have Dropbox installed.

So effectively, on whichever device you choose to look at the Expense.xls spreadsheet, you will always be looking at the same version of the file.

If you are at the airport and update the spreadsheet to add a few new rows of expenses, as you save the file on your laptop, so it will be updated on all your other devices.

That’s the basic functionality of Dropbox, but it goes much further.

Let’s say you have 20 folders on your computer, but you want to share one particular folder with your associates. You can do this by making that folder a shared folder. And whenever you add or change a document in that folder, the people with whom you’ve shared it will be notified that the document has been added or changed. And vice versa.

So you could setup a folder for each client and they can put documents in the folder which updates the folder on your computer.

The benefit of Dropbox is that your data is always up to date and can be accessed from anywhere, so your data is guaranteed current and safe!

By Jeremy Waterman, MD Softline Accpac and Sage MMD Africa

Part of the Sage Group plc

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Jeremy Waterman

Enterprise ERP and CRM solutions were historically designed for large corporations and typically come with appropriately large price tag.  Many ERP software vendors have adopted that same approach in the African market, not realising that they are entering a different playing field where the average African company is no larger than upper mid-market in size.

For a continent that doesn’t have a large enterprise ERP requirement, we have not really seen suitable mid-market solutions that have been able to establish the critical mass in the African market in order to compete effectively.  Our Sage ERP X3 and Sage ERP Accpac solutions are specifically designed to support the upper and mid-market companies, this presents a big opportunity for us to dominate the space in Africa that has been falsely dominated by large enterprise ERP players.

Due to the lack of credible upper mid-market software vendors in the African market companies have, in the past, had to compromise and buy lower mid-market products or overspend on solutions that are better designed and suited for very large global enterprises.

We are particularly excited about the launch of our Sage ERP X3 Standard Edition that is targeted at the heart of the mid-market and is delivered with a set of implementation methodologies that guarantee an effective solution in a short period of time.

The African market is hungry for technology and demands that new features are made available a lot faster than before.  We are moving into the age of intelligence and companies in Africa are well ahead of much of the world in embracing the mobile revolution.  As a result, the average African business is driving their business in the mobile direction and we need to be able to provide ERP and CRM solutions that are able to adapt and address the needs of this growing market.

Companies ultimately want the ability to ‘listen’ to everything and they want solutions that will allow them to react in real time.  How quickly and flexibly we, as product developers, can deliver that information in a usable and mobile format is the name of the game.

–By Grant Lloyd, CTO Softline and Sage AAMEA

Grant_Lloyd_MD_Pastel_Payroll_Softline

Grant Lloyd

Microsoft’s prolific marketing machine refers to Windows 8 as “Windows reimagined”.  Whilst the somewhat cynical view may be that the new OS from Microsoft, slated for release in late 2012, may only be following a trail blazed hitherto by Apple, the much anticipated event may more significantly (or even ominously for some) be the strongest indication yet that the PC era is slowly drawing to a close.

Through a necessity imposed by its predecessor’s prodigious historical desktop- and server-side successes over two decades, Windows 8 will by all accounts be somewhat schizophrenic, catering as it does to the demands of traditional desktop users with a marginally improved offering to that of Windows 7, whilst simultaneously within a single OS, embracing touch devices, new hardware architectures, mobile devices and a programming model more identifiable for having its roots in the web rather than some form of desktop ancestry, based as it is in HTML 5, CSS and JavaScript.

Propitiously (or perhaps worryingly), the last time Microsoft effectively “combined” two operating systems into one, via the release of Windows 3 in the early ‘90’s, packaging at the time both MS-DOS and a new Windows GUI on the PC simultaneously, the “event” (pun intended) heralded the ultimate demise of DOS as a broad-based PC OS of choice, ushering in the “new era” of graphic user interfaces, event-driven programming and multi-threading on the desktop…..

Perhaps Microsoft Office 15 best illustrates the earth shattering nature (at least for Microsoft) of the new OS best through its redefinition of the web, rather than Office, as the new platform for Office 15.  And, whilst fundamental paradigm shifts such as this are at the core of the Windows 8 design philosophy (look to the development environment for yet another example of fundamental design shifts, remember .net?) it is perhaps the “exactly different” natural comfort of a second major 2-in-1 OS in twenty years from Microsoft which promises the most and induces “stickiness” for existing Windows users without compromising on the “sexiness promise” and irrefutable portability advantages of an “iDevice”.

After all, would it not be comforting, at least for a while, to take a break from the relentless treadmill of mobile technology evolution and trust your Windows desktop OS with your mobile devices too?

And perhaps maybe, just maybe, this “hybrid” approach could transition a life-time of desktop investment and most importantly historically aggregated data, into an elegant, future-proof alternative embracing the best of the desktop of “old” simultaneously with the mobility and connected services of the “new”?  Oh, and I forgot to mention, through a single OS…..

So, is there an elephant in the room then, I hear you ask?

Perhaps….. but in my opinion, not likely.

Whilst paradoxically Microsoft’s greatest asset, a universally enviable installed-base of desktop users may yet prove to be its albatross, it would at least on face value appear that an expansive desktop user-base may in fact embrace the duality of this schizophrenic OS in much the same way that Windows 3 made slow yet inexorable progress in the ultimate extermination of DOS.  As Blackberry and RIM’s early innovation almost inevitably yet inadvertently gave birth to the prolific and successful range of Apple devices and iOS, perhaps too, Microsoft’s first experience at late-adoption from an OS perspective may prove the ultimate undoing (or re-niche-marginalisation) of these offerings.

So whilst I am not sure THEY can claim imagining everything about connected services and data in the cloud, Microsoft marketing is indeed correct to a point; Windows 8 truly IS “Windows reimagined”.  Don’t write of the idea of Windows 8 just yet….. it makes a lot of sense, and it really looks good too.

…..oh, but don’t go and forget about Android either!  J