Firms shy away from IT implementation

According to the third Sage/Accountancy Age IT skills survey, the number of firms suggesting they will embrace IT in the future has fallen for the second year running.

Meanwhile, the number of practices that strongly believed IT and computerisation will provide new and lucrative revenue streams also fell – by 50%.

At the same time, accountants’ perceptions of whether they are expected to offer IT services to their clients has also fallen, as has the belief that they will be left behind if they do not embrace technology.

The survey also highlighted the tendency of larger firms place great importance on keeping abreast of technological advances.

A likely explanation into the softening of attitudes to technology is the demise of the dotcom revolution and lingering fallout from Y2K when firms were confronted with technology issues daily.

But Adrian Grace, general manager of Sage’s professional accountants division, warned: ‘Dotcom fall out is evidenced by a softening of general attitudes held by the industry but smaller practices should not become too complacent as the survey suggests they may be in danger of doing.

‘Smaller practices should also be aware that large practices perceive a stronger demand for delivery of online client services. However, the majority in the industry see future online applications,’ he added.

But encouragingly, the survey of 1,000 accountants found internet access had increased, with the percentage of accountants with access to the web at work rising to 84%.

Sage believes accountants have not been slow in taking up and implementing e-based software and are keeping up with other business communities.

This belief was supported after 45% said they had a website, with 35% of those that didn’t said they were planning to build one.

Communication continues to be the main use for the internet, with 86% of those questioned citing e-mail as a reason for using the internet – up 10% on last year.

However, there was also a marked increase in the number of accountants who visit sites to obtain industry information, with the figure rising from 46% to 61%.


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