View from the board: the online accountant

All, in very different ways, are persuading more and more accountants to do
business online.

Readers of a certain age and questionable musical taste might remember
one-hit-wonder Vanilla Ice. Now he’s fronting a web-based competition to find
the best tax rapper in the US, for which there have been an astonishing 370
entries so far. Go to if you want to make it 371 –
or just laugh at the others.

Last week Accountancy Age revealed that HM Revenue & Customs policy
supremo Dave Hartnett was to start podcasting. On the back page, cartoonist
Colin was a little unkind in his reading of the likely outcome (somnolent would
be the kindest description of his expectation) but the taxman deserves credit
for being willing to use all the media available in broadcasting a message.

So far, so superficial you might think. But Philip Woodgate might change your
mind. Woodgate accepted the Best Use of Internet by a Practice gong at last
year’s Accountancy Age Awards. And the Goodman Jones partner hasn’t rested on
his laurels since. His blog a few days ago indicated just how integral
technology is to the way in which the firm deals with clients or, indeed, how
SMEs deal with the firm.

One example: the firm hosted a wiki event for clients, which Philip describes
as: ‘A perfect online collaboration tool. A wiki can be a complete repository of
knowledge that evolves as a business grows. Just think of all the emails that
get lost in space, especially when the team changes over time. Wikis can capture
all the vital information to benefit new team members as they join.’

Then it gets interesting. From customary links through to a more detailed
description of the day’s events, there were additional comments from some who
attended, photos (hosted on a photo-sharing website) and a link to a mindmap
chart distilling the content further. It was fantastically impressive stuff. And
not a little scary.

But maybe we should all aim to embrace one technology today. And if it’s a
straight choice between taking Vanilla Ice’s advice and following Woodgate’s
lead, I know which one I’ll choose.

Damian Wild is editor in chief of Accountancy Age

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