Technology is the talk of the town lately – and we’re not going to lie, it’s pretty exciting. From cloud apps to big data to self-driving cars, the world looks nothing like it used to.
The good news is, Business Fitness is offering the best of both worlds. For the eager early adopters, we’ve got our shiny new HowNow Online for you to manage your documents straight from the cloud. For the ones who are happy with how things are (and there are many of you), our HowNow Server product won’t – and that’s a promise – be going anywhere. Many of our clients continue to renew their existing server leases and many are exploring or implementing external hosting options.
At Business Fitness, we’re realistic about the pace of adoption and the pattern of technology cycles. Cloud is new and exciting and offers endless possibilities, but the on-premise world isn’t shifting overnight. Our latest Good Bad Ugly edition revealed that 74% of accounting firms intend to remain on servers for the next 3 years (whether on-premise or hosted in the cloud), in keeping with last year’s ATSA Technology Survey, which showed that 50% of firms will continue with their internal server, 20% will move to hosted server as their next move, and only 20% intend to move to the cloud as their next move. In general, it’s the smaller start-up firms (with reliable Internet) that are most suited to the cloud’s current capabilities, without the burden of legacy systems and historical data and who also have a lighter use of data/bandwidth.
What some may not realise is that cloud document management comes in two forms: online and hosted server. HowNow Online has a 1-3 year development plan that we believe is in keeping with the industry’s adoption of cloud technology, while HowNow Server is available on a hosted server (and Business Fitness is partnering with Centorrino Technologies to make this a reality for firms). This is a much smoother transition for bigger firms and firms already using HowNow Server wishing to move to the cloud. HowNow has been used in hosted environments by firms for many years – in fact we use it that way ourselves.
As HowNow Online develops, we’ll be following a method of product development that involves seeking user feedback, prioritising development accordingly, releasing regular updates, and continually seeking user consultation for the product’s evolution. Right now, the application has functionality suited for smaller and growing firms with a connection to Xero Practice Manager. Integration to other products is certainly on the 2015 roadmap and like other features, the connections will be fuelled by user demand.
Meanwhile, our server product will continue to undergo development and be upgraded with new and exciting features, we’ll provide continued technical support to our server customers, and we’ll always offer integration with other programs wherever possible. In fact, more than 60% of our development and support team are dedicated solely to the improvement of our server product.
Many people in the industry are extremely pro-cloud, but stepping back to look at it, the cloud is just a means to an end. The aim is efficiency, data flows, eliminating manual data entry and automating wherever possible. We think that these can be achieved with cloud, private cloud and local servers. What matters is not whether you’re in the cloud or not, but whether you’re using technology to your advantage as a driver of efficiency, accuracy, and therefore better business.