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Surveys: Accountants Use the Cloud; and Don't

Jamie Sutherland, Xero Call it the case of the dueling surveys. Cloud accounting company Xero says that its survey shows that 55 percent the accountants responding plan to offer cloud accounting services to clients. That comes on the heels of another survey that shows 70.5 percent of firms responding do not use any cloud accounting applications.

"It bodes well for our strategy for accounting professionals," says Jamie Sutherland, president of Xero North America. "It's consistent with other surveys."

Not only was the Xero survey optimistic about the current state of accounting in the cloud, but the survey predicted every accountant will offer online accounting services by 2018

But the effort is certainly not consistent with the findings of the recently released results of the Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey sponsored by the Network Management Group, headed by well-known consultant Randy Johnston, and conducted by the Insight Research Group, whose CEO, Leslie Garrett, has been known for public relation services to vendors in the tax and accounting market.

The results are pretty much a glass half full and half empty divide when it comes to use of the cloud. The Xero survey, conducted by Zogby, shows 28 percent of accountants responding used Xero for their small business clients. The NMGI survey showed 1.4 percent used Xero for client accounting. That compared to 69.4 percent using a product from Intuit, a group that includes different desktop versions of QuickBooks, QuickBooks online, Quicken and TAASC.

In terms of comparing only cloud products, the game is much closer. The leader was QuickBooks online was 14.3 percent, but second was Bill.com with 11.6 percent and Xero with 7 percent. No other product garnered as much as 5 percent, according to the NMGI survey.

Outside of the questions about cloud computing, the two surveys had different focuses. Xero's questions concentrate on client-account relationships while the NMGI effort was about the products and surveys used by tax and accounting professionals. Xero said it had 400 randomly chosen "small business-focused accountants identified by Zogby Analytics (not all of whom use Xero, or even cloud accounting services, for that matter."

The technology use survey broke out respondents by size of firm and includes questions on virtually all areas of software with some on internet, mobile and hardware usage

Xero also asked accountants about their clients' use of cloud accounting. Only 5 percent said that all of their clients use web-based accounting, up from 3 percent in 2013. Twenty percent said 75 to 99 percent of their clients are in that category, up from 7 percent last year, and 24 percent said 50 to 74 percent utilize Internet-based accounting applications, up from 16 percent the prior year.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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