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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A recent survey has revealed the many SMEs are using outdated software like Excel spreadsheets for financial data capturing and reporting.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While most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) believe that their accountants are tech-savvy, many are actually using outdated technology solutions – choosing to keep expenses down by not investing in innovative new technological offerings.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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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