Rod Drury’s ten trends in accounting are spot on, but they could all be encapsulated in the first: “Online accounting won’t exist as a product category for long.” Rod writes…
Small Business don’t do integration projects but in
the SaaS world vendors are encouraged to work together
to integrate their products so small businesses don’t
have to. Some vendors may decide to develop the
surrounding modules and have full suites and others
will make it easy to link with complimentary solutions.
Like all software, accounting software is becoming part of an ecosystem. As the ecosystem evolves, components evolve and connect to diverse related components. The emergence of standardised APIs, integration with other business modules and with banking systems, and the emergence of a market for integrators are all artefacts of this.
What Rod misses is that the exact trends he predicts are strongly favourable to open source accounting software components. Accounting software is the classic example of the “critical non-core” category where open source works best. As Geoffrey Moore points out, accounting software doesn’t by itself make anyone any money, but everyone has to have it. There is therefore no threat to competitive advantage in collaborating around it. In a component-based environment, even business models that do rely on particular transaction flows derive their advantage from implementation, rather than the components themselves.
Another trend that favours open source accounting solutions is the suspicion of business models based on lock-in and datamining. With open source cloud solutions, the customer has greater freedom to move between service providers without having to change the software that they use.