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Why would anyone opt for desktop accounting over cloud?

The debate may seem won, but desktop accounting software is hanging around longer than many cloud-converts would have thought.

So why would any business opt for the desktop option, when the advantages of cloud are shouted loud and clear from the likes of Xero, MYOB, Intuit and Reckon, and more?

Brad Paterson, Intuit Vice President and Managing Director Asia-Pacific, says he doesn’t believe any new business would indeed opt for the desktop package over cloud.

“It’s being used still by older businesses, and they’re mostly looking to move to cloud as well,” he says.

Paterson believes that for businesses that are yet to make the switch, the reasons generally come down to a lack of awareness, and timing concerns.

“There can be an element of fear in heading to the cloud, and around data security, access to data, internet access and so on. But it can be a matter of education around making the switch,” he says.

In terms of converting to the cloud, Paterson adds the process is much simpler than some may think.

“It’s very easy – it’s a matter of exporting a data file from your desktop software – which usually take a couple of minutes – to an excel spreadsheet or a CSV file, and that’s it. The file then gets converted into the cloud, and it can take from 24 hours to 72 hours. Then it’s just a matter of the accountant or small business owner familiarising themselves with the new product. It’s a matter of understanding that that’s how easy it is.”

Similarly, Pete Sanders Managing Director – Business Group at Reckon, believes the future of small business accounting rests firmly in the cloud. However, unlike some of its competitors, Reckon is still committed to their desktop product and has just launched their latest 2014 package.

Sanders says the reason for this is that the desktop software is more functionally rich at the small business price point than any other software on the market.

“Cloud is obviously still fairly new, and the oldest competitor we have has been on the market for 9-10 years. The reality is though, that they haven’t built up all that functionality that’s been there for the past 20-25 years in the desktop products. So we’ve got SME customers saying to us that they still need all that functionality before they can move to the cloud – so that’s why they’re still using desktop,” Sanders says.

Sanders adds that some customers still hold security fears, and use desktop because they feel that safer using it ‘offline’.

However, in using the cloud, it’s important to note that the data is not stored on the device – it’s stored in data centres, and only a limited number of people know the locations.

Sanders points out that for Reckon’s cloud products, the information is behind several walls of security. “Security is paramount for us, because we know that a security breach would cripple our company,” Sanders says.

“Beyond your own passcode that you have in place on the phone or device in order to access it in the first instance, there’s also a pin in place in order to access the application, and you’ve got to key that in every time you log into the application. Beyond that, we also have the full suite of Amazon security in place,” he adds.

Notably, research commissioned by Intuit recently found that in future, some 88 per cent of business owners believe it will be essential to complete business-related tasks on mobile devices.

Business tasks with the biggest expected increase in uptake were:

  • Accepting payments – from 13 per cent today to 31 per cent;
  • Invoicing – from 12 per cent today to 26 per cent;
  • Web/videoconferencing – from 15 per cent today to 30 per cent.