From the February 2012 Digital Issue.
The software market has undergone a quiet change over the last five years. The mature market of desktop computer applications which are installed from CDs and DVDs has been supplemented by two new business models. This publication has discussed the evolution of Software as a Service for many years, and our roster of thought leaders includes some bright minds who are helping firms implement the related opportunities. These opportunities include collaborative models of client bookkeeping, no client application, and anytime, anywhere access to information.
A second software revolution taking place around us is the mobile revolution, which is changing the way we work, live, and communicate with everyone in our lives. Just twenty years ago, a cell phone was a costly status symbol possessed by a few senior executives, and these tiny devices are now in the hands of almost every man, woman, and teenager in the developed world. In July 2008, the Apple App Store opened for business, and made it possible for iPhone users to access hundreds of thousands of small, downloadable mobile software programs to meet every imaginable need. While the early solutions primarily met primarily personal needs, this business model has changed the way many of us work with software. Just as our magazine has changed to embrace new technologies in the past, we are now adding editorial coverage of the world of these “apps” so readers can learn about new tools to help you manage your work while on the go.
The “app economy” is changing the way software is written, published, used, and consumed by everyone. Major publishers like CCH, Thomson Reuters, Intuit, and BNA are direct competitors with apps from startups like FreshBooks and Xero. Individual developers can now support themselves by selling apps in these mobile marketplaces, while outsourcing the sales and fulfillment to the major marketplaces from Apple, Amazon, and Google. CCH has even announced a rapid development prototype team which is tasked with responding quickly to the emerging opportunities in this space, and one can only assume that similar initiatives exist within other major publishers serving the tax and accounting professions.
The first apps to be featured in this new column are focused on the basic needs of practitioners. They are:
- PDF Scanner for Android
- BNA Quick Tax Reference for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry
- Roboform for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry
Future columns will focus on offerings from industry publishers such as CCH, Thomson Reuters, Intuit, and Sage, as well as independent applications used by your industry peers.
We are very interested in learning more about how you are using apps in your practice and your personal life. Please send me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how you use this technology to solve client and practice issues in your work. Your submission may earn you a mention in the publication, or possibly even some swag from our stash of CPA Practice Advisor merchandise.
App Profile: PDF Scanner
Summary: A “must have” utility for any professional with a smartphone who needs to capture images of documents.
While there are many competitors which will let you capture pictures of documents using your phone, PDF Scanner from Melon Mobile provides a comprehensive solution for business users who want to be able to scan a page or two without carrying a PC and scanner with them.
- Cross-platform support makes it possible for users of Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, or Windows Mobile devices to use the same app to capture documents.
- Natively supports sharing documents via e-mail, Google Docs, Evernote, Skype, and DropBox. Files can alternatively be downloaded from the phone’s memory using a USB cable.
- Makes it possible for employees to have a document capture device in the field without carrying any extra hardware.