Forecast Cloudy for 2014

It has been some time since I updated my blog – due in no small part to pressures of work and other life incidents getting in the way. But I am glad to say that my muse has found me again and encouraged me to return to my keyboard.

During this enforced “sabbatical” from writing about matters Cloud, I have, however, been busy speaking at a number of events – Accountex back in June and more recently at the Iris World forums – more of which later. I have also been watching with fascination how this wonderful world of Cloud has been developing and taking on a life of its own. The developments over the last 6 months alone have been fascinating and begs the question what will 2014 bring.

The Cloud scene generally in the accounting world has transformed almost( and I emphasise almost) beyond recognition. Xero has moved ahead in leaps and bounds and full credit to Gary Turner and his team for establishing Xero as the defacto product for cloud users entering the market place. There is however a nagging doubt as to whether there is a danger in becoming the monopoly product in what is still a new market place at such at an early stage. The problem with having such a large hold on a particular sector is that after a period of time the only way to go is down – Sage is discovering this rather belatedly.

Back in 2011 (is it really 2 years?) there was a great deal of excitement over the news that Wolters Kluwer – the parent company of CCH – had acquired Twinfield. Surely this would vitalise the market place as other desktop providers hurried to secure their place in the cloud scramble by in turn acquiring other Cloud providers. Disappointingly very little actually happened after that. Although there is much talk about CCH and Twinfield product integration, not a lot appears to have happened as yet and I am waiting with interest to see what will transpire.

And then in the last two months there has been a seismic shift in the space. Firstly Iris have made a big play by announcing the launch of a number of cloud versions of their standard desk top offerings. They have launched over the past 12 months or so a number of products under their “open” brand including “Open Tax” which is probably the first mainstream tax product to be put into the cloud. The whole theme of their World Forum conference was their Cloud launch and they are surely setting a new standard for other desk top providers to follow.

And if that wasn’t enough there followed two further announcements – firstly the acquisition by Iris of Kashflow and in a stroke the two top providers of desktop software have each an established Cloud provider in their stable. Unlike CCH, it is obvious that Iris with their Cloud strategy are going to make much of this acquisition and it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months.

At virtually the same time – and not receiving quite as much publicity – came the announcement that HgCapital had acquired E-conomic. What make this so interesting is that HgCapital are the parent company of Iris which means that they now have in their stable two of the leading cloud products covering the whole SME spectrum from the micro to the macro. And what this also does is firmly establish the Cloud as a mainstream operating paradigm and takes it finally out of the specialist arena.

What will 2014 bring —- what is certain is that it will be fascinating.