How much?

The government has “stagnated” innovation in the technology sector, according to Phill Robinson, MD of the accountancy division at IRIS.

Robinson was talking about the government’s upcoming deadline for the introduction of computer language iXBRL (inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language).

The technology will allow easier comparison of financial information for analysts and the government, which I thought, opened new doors for the technology and accountancy industry.

However, at what cost is this technology? Has the industry become stagnant, and will the accountancy profession see its IT costs increase dramatically?

Robinson said IRIS had to focus a significant amount of its resources on iXBRL, when that time and money could have been spent on finding ways to innovate for the industry.

But a representative from Sage, which doubled its research and development budget for iXBRL, believes compliance with the new technology has brought it closer to its customers.

Sage spent significant sums of money meeting customers to find out what they know and want from iXBRL. Jayne Archbold, MD of Sage’s accountants division, told me she was hoping to include many of Sage’s customer suggestions in the incoming iXBRL upgrades.

This sounds great and both IRIS and Sage have told me they will not charge customers with an annual licence for iXBRL upgrades. But they still face a cost pressure. The software developers’ research and development budgets will shift upwards. How will they pay for that, if not through subscriptions?

Others face costs. Accountancy firms and businesses may also find themselves paying to train accountants on how to use the new technology.

We may have to wait some years to find out the true cost of iXBRL and in the meantime we’ll just have to watch this space.

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