I’ve just got back from the Xero Roadshow. For me the most interesting part of the day was hearing Gary Turner, the UK MD, talk about where Xero is heading.
As you would expect they think the future of accounting software is mobile. In my view there is one major challenge, at present bookkeeping still requires a significant amount of data entry. It’s just no fun inputting an invoice into any system with only a touchscreen keyboard.
One solution might to be to use a camera to take a photo of an invoice and then using an OCR tool to convert that into the necessary data fields. Though this would probably be pretty hard given the myriad shapes and formats that invoices have.
A more workable solution might be to instead adopt something similar to QR codes (a modern day barcode system). A QR code should easily be able to contain all the necessary data contained in an invoice. Then all it would take to add an invoice into an accounting system would be to take a photo of the QR code and let the software do the rest (mapping to a particular account might then need a bit of manual input).
A QR code solution would turn a boring two minute task into a simple five second mobile friendly task.
The really hard bit would be to get the many accounting software vendors to accept a standard. Getting someone like Sage or Intuit (QuickBooks) to lead is never going to happen. How hard would it be for the much more adaptable Xero, KashFlow, Freeagent and Clear Books to agree something between them though?