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SMEs stick to tech they know

A recent survey has revealed the many SMEs are using outdated software like Excel spreadsheets for financial data capturing and reporting.

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While most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) believe that their accountants are tech-savvy, many are actually using outdated technology solutions – choosing to keep expenses down by not investing in innovative new technological offerings. In fact, according to the SME Survey 2018, more than a quarter of SMEs (27%) still use Excel spreadsheets for financial data capturing and reporting.

One of the key aims of SME Survey 2018, has been to take an in-depth look at the future of the accounting function and the role the accountant plays in these businesses. It is a role that is evolving rapidly, says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx and principal researcher for the SME Survey.

“While 86% of SME decision-makers indicated that the main reason they use accountants is for bookkeeping purposes, a growing number (41%) also turn to them for financial advice or to serve as the organisation’s tax specialist (40%),” he says.

However, when asked whether they were happy with their current accounting software, a near-unanimous 93% of SME owners indicated that they were satisfied with what they had. However, this correlates closely with 87% of respondents saying that their accountants were either very tech savvy or at least somewhat savvy. Of course, Goldstuck adds, the mere fact that a quarter of SMEs still make use of Excel spreadsheets demonstrates that there is no correlation at all between the sophistication of the software being used and their satisfaction with current processes.

“The general consensus seems to be that, as long as it is doing the job it is supposed to do, owners are not going to delve too deeply into either what else their accounting package can do, or how it actually does what it does. All they are concerned with, ultimately, is that it is able to assist them with their financials and produce the numbers they need.”

This attitude, he continues, is underpinned by the fact that three quarters (74%) of SME owners indicated that they have no plans to change the accounting software they are currently using. The remaining 26% correlates very closely with the 27% who are still utilising Excel.

“This is despite the fact that there are some fantastic new accounting packages available, specifically designed with SMEs in mind – simplifying the usually complex financial aspects of business. There is also a corollary to this, namely that, as more SMEs adopt such technology, more accountants will follow suit, optimising the more advanced services like tax specialisation and the provision of financial advice.”

SME Survey is the original and largest representative survey since 2003 to measure the forces shaping SME competitiveness in South Africa.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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