30/04/2012

By Richard Messik, Chartered Accountant And Co-founder Of Cloud Advocates

Looking back at over 30 years in the accounting profession, it is fascinating to see how the technology has evolved over that time.

I remember when I was under articles (as it was quaintly called) that we weren’t allowed to use the one armed bandit type adding machines until we had passed our intermediate exams (no one seemed to be too concerned about costings and efficiencies in those days!). Whilst it might take longer to add up a column of figures at least we learned how to add up a column of figures!

I was on audit when I came across, at a client, my first electronic calculator big thing it was, about the size of DAB radio and my colleagues and I spent many a happy hour seeing how it divided and multiplied (time budgets what were those?).

It was in 1982 that I introduced our first computer to my Father’s practice. This was after much heated discussion on why we should actually need one of these contraptions. I honestly can’t recall what my justification was at the time and the result was my father saying that I could get one but he wanted nothing to do with it.

It was an Olivetti 3030 the size of a desk and with a floppy disk as big as a dinner plate but it did the job and we were soon producing our first sets of accounts avoiding the need for accounts typists and all the other, now antiquated processes involved in compiling a set of accounts.

Our first PCs had a massive capacity of 20 megabytes and very happily operated on Microsoft DOS (which is a shortened acronym for Quick and Dirty Operating System) and we used Word Perfect for our word processing and Lotus 123 for spreadsheets.

I remember the discussions at the time about the move to Windows and what that would involve.

I had someone working for me who dealt with our Payrolls and administration and who had been a comptometer operator. Her keyboard speeds were so quick that the Windows operating system couldn’t keep up with her and there were many occasions that the system crashed as a result.

And from then on the growth has been exponential. The technology that we take for granted today would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. The extraordinary (and in some respects slightly frightening) growth in Internet use has changed the face of accounting beyond belief.

I suppose the arguments about cloud computing are not dissimilar with the discussions I had with my now late Father when I first suggested getting a computer. I knew it would be more efficient but how do you prove that to someone who couldn’t grasp the concept in the first place.

I wonder what the next 30 years will bring?

Richard Messik is a Chartered Accountant who specialises in Cloud Computing. He is a co founder of Cloud Advocates,an association of consultants who aim to demystify the Cloud and provide pragmatic help and advice for businesses, organizations and accounting practices. To find out more, visit http://cloudadvocates.com/

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