From the June 2012 issue.
There are now more than a half million apps available for the iPhone and over 400,000 for Android smartphones. Add to this the more than 200,000 apps for the iPad and somewhere around 20,000 for Android tablets, and you quickly come to the conclusion that, yes… there is an app for pretty much everything.
The majority still seem to be for entertainment, social networking and sharing photos, like the Instagram app, which makes photos look old and which, somehow, the developers sold to Facebook for a billion dollars. Yes, as absurd as it sounds, a billion dollars.
It’s not just fun and games, however. Great productivity boosting apps for businesses and financial professionals are out there in abundance, and our own Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP, frequently highlights particularly noteworthy ones in his monthly columns. While he generally focuses on apps that are independent of specific programs and act as a beneficial additional tool, many vendors that make technologies for tax and accounting professionals are adding apps that connect with the data in their programs.
This is most common, and more easily achieved, for programs that are already web-based or hosted, because the app can be used to securely tap into the databases and provide users with valuable information, as well as offering input and functionality while on the go. Apps are now available for many of the programs offered by Thomson Reuters, CCH and Intuit, as well as for construction accounting systems, tax programs, research and other areas of professional practice.
One of the fastest growing areas for professional apps is in the payroll space. As advanced and streamlined online payroll systems have allowed accountants to bring payroll back as a profitable service in their firms, many of the leading providers of those payroll programs have started offering mobile apps for smart phones that allow users to quickly process payrolls, enter or edit detailed employee and withholding information, enter holidays and personal time, view reports and manage accounts.
Some of these apps also have tools for the business client, as well as their employees, allowing those users to enter time and other data, and see information relevant to their roles. With more and more professionals, managers and other workers adapting more mobile lifestyles, the flexibility these apps provide are increasingly essential.
Providers of mobile payroll apps see things the same way. "Within the next two years, we're going to see businesses spending 35% of their IT budgets on mobile," said Gary Butler, ADP President and CEO. "The fact is, the definition of 'the office' is changing. With smarter devices and faster networks on our side, ADP continues to invest heavily in bringing our trusted solutions to clients wherever they choose to work."
Leaders at PayChex, one of the largest payroll providers in the U.S., see the importance of mobility for all three sides: professionals, businesses and employees. “As our world becomes more dependent on the flexibility that technology provides, it’s important for businesses to allow their products to fully integrate into mobile platforms,” says Michael Gioja, senior vice president of information technology, product management and development for Paychex. “Our clients and their employees need to interact with our products and services based on the actions they want to take and when, where and how, via any device.”
SurePayroll, which offered the first payroll app and won a 2010 Innovation Award, continues to develop their technologies around the mobile needs of professionals. “We knew when we introduced the industry’s first payroll app that we were filling an important need in the marketplace,” said SurePayroll President and CEO Michael Alter.