Prepare for the war of the nerds

The business software industry is after the one thing money (alone) can’t buy ð your influence as a trusted adviser.

Microsoft has begun its long-awaited assault on the small business software industry in the US, targeting accountants as the key channel to market through the drearily named Professional Accounting Network, or PAN for short.

Eyebrows have also been raised among industry experts regarding the amount of kit Microsoft is prepared to subscribe to accountants through its ‘action pack’ containing a raft of applications and even a server platform.

In turn, its US rival Intuit can only carry on as before, hoping not too many heads are turned.

The accounting module’s UK launch is a year or so away, and while Microsoft currently has no plans to launch the network over here, the possibility of luring UK accountants on board must be tantalising.

But you know what to expect. Those in relationships with Sage and Iris ð and both have successful accountants’ partner schemes ð will expect, at the very least, that they intensify their schmoozing.

Some accountants would view a Microsoft accountants’ network as keeping the marketplace healthy and competitive among their IT providers, while others would see it as an inconvenience, manifested in an excess of marketing bumf.

Let’s face it, accountants are known for not liking change. If their relationships with software companies are adequate, it will be difficult to persuade them to jump camps.

However, nothing lasts forever. A new generation of IT-literate accountants is coming to the fore, the vast majority of whom have grown up using Microsoft products, and who don’t go dewy-eyed when thinking about the revolutionary products Graham Wylie’s Sage introduced in the early 1980s.

But for those preparing to grind their teeth at the US razzmatazz that will surely accompany Microsoft’s accounting module landing on these shores, accountants could find that their good-old UK IT partners treat them to a flash of the pearly-whites before Gates even steps off the plane.

Kevin Reed edits the technology page

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