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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Warning about cyber threat to UK businesses

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

UK businesses were recently warned about the growing risk of cyber attacks as Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, urged businesses across the country to protect themselves by taking up the Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme.

Whilst businesses are reaping the benefits of operating online and now earn £1 in every £5 from the Internet, cyber attacks are now considered a serious threat to UK businesses. The latest figures reveal that 74 per cent of small businesses, and 90 per cent of major businesses, has had a cyber breach of security in the last year.

Speaking at the Financial Times Cyber Security Europe Summit, the Minister revealed more than 1,000 businesses have now adopted Cyber Essentials – the UK Government’s leading scheme which protects businesses against the most common threats on the Internet. Intel Security, part of multinational technology firm and chip manufacturer Intel, are among the firms who have recently achieved Cyber Essentials certification.

Speaking at the conference, the Minister also announced a new £500,000 fund to help universities and colleges develop innovative teaching and learning to provide the cyber security skills needed to protect the UK now and in the future.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Good cyber security underpins the entire digital economy – we need it to keep our businesses, citizens and public services safe. The UK is a world leader in the use of digital technologies but we also need to be a world leader in cyber security.

Trust and confidence in UK online security is crucial for consumers, businesses and investors. We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to do business online and Cyber Essentials is a great and simple way firms can protect themselves.

Since launching the National Cyber Security Programme in 2011, Government has invested £860m to protect and promote the UK. Based on analysis by GCHQ which showed how cyber criminals were exploiting basics weaknesses in company IT systems, Cyber Essentials sets out five technical controls which will protect firms against the majority of internet threats, like viruses, malware and hacking.

The rise of cloud accounting in Northern Ireland

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

As you’ll no doubt have noticed, operating a business in locally means that you (and we) are often seeing trends that begin in ‘mainland UK’ and at times move into our business environment. (Other times they don’t, and we merely scoff from afar and continue doing business as we have done for many years while that particular business fad dwindles to nothing .)

One of the changes we’ve noticed as Northern Ireland based accountants has been the extremely swift rise of not only online or “cloud” computing, but also the number of local SME’s using cloud based platforms for their bookkeeping and accounting requirements.

And unlike some other trends, we believe the use of cloud based accounting platforms is one trend that is here to stay..

We see online tools everywhere: from iphones to online banking, social media for business leading to the slow death of paper, the “cloud” isn’t a ‘revolution’ or a ‘new thing’, it’s simply how we all live , work and do business in this modern digital age.

Locally we’ve noticed some of these trends take a little longer to gain traction , but as your accountants and advisors , more and more we see business being done in the cloudThe impact of the cloud is that any business owner in Northern Ireland has a unique opportunity to get ahead of the trend and to gain a competitive edge that other businesses may not yet have.

How is this possible? And what’s involved?

The key is cloud accounting software – particularly Xero.

Xero: How can accounting software be beautiful?

Xero (in case it’s new to you) has the tagline of “beautiful accounting software”. Even that word ‘beautiful’ may seem to collide with the world of accounting.

How do you make debits and credits beautiful? How do you ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ over invoicing? The answer is you make it easy to use, and by integrating it with over 400 add-ons and apps so that your entire business – not just your accounting and bookkeeping – work seamlessly together in the cloud.

No more software CD’s or downloads and upgrades to install, and no more sending Excel spreadsheets to your accountant, or meticulously writing down mileage in a little black notebook kept in your company car.

Why it’s critical that you use Xero now (before everyone else does)

Here are the reasons we believe Xero is taking over when it comes to bookkeeping and  accounting, and why it’s critical you start implementing it as soon as possible.

  • Massive time savings: No more software to download. No more expense claims or mileage recording or creating invoices in Word. Everything happens so quickly you may even find you have enough time at the weekend to do something fun, rather than getting caught up on the business admin.
  • Less email: You and your accountant have access to the same information at the same time. In our case, this means that you never have to send us any information again – we just log in and have a look and give you our advice or opinion based on real-time information.
  • Access anytime, anywhere: Access Xero anywhere where in the world where this an internet connect ordownload the Xero app onto your phone and send that quote or invoice thirty seconds after you’ve met with the customer.
  • Automatic integrations: Chase debts automatically and get paid faster. Link Xero with your website so that every time you add a new product, it’s instantly added to your website allowing you to manage inventory in the cloud.
  • Security: Many of our clients ask, “But is it safe in the cloud?” The short answer is, “Yes, absolutely, and there are hundreds of thousands of businesses who trust Xero with their data.” (You can read Xero’s page on security here, but we’ll be the first to assure you that as your accountant, we would never recommend a system that wasn’t safe for you to use.

All of these elements have been tried and tested throughout the entire UK, and by many of our clients here in Northern Ireland.

But there are still many businesses who aren’t using it yet – which is extremely positive for you.

This means that as soon as you start using cloud accounting, and integrating with the many add-ons and apps that make your business and life better, you’ll be:

  • More efficient, and able to respond more quickly to prospects and new customers
  • More cash-rich, as your cash flow will be better
  • More profitable, because you’ll know where your money is coming from and what products or services to promote (and how to price them)

HMRC takes back control of IT services

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced earlier this month that it will bring some existing IT services under its direct control, while it continues to plan the transition to a new IT delivery model following the ending of the Aspire contract in 2017.

These changes will ultimately enable HMRC to make savings of up to 24 per cent on its £800m annual IT budget by 2020-21 while maintaining consistent delivery of services to customers.

Mark Dearnley, HMRC’s Chief Digital and Information Officer, said:

“We have an ambitious digital vision – to transform our IT services and use the data we hold in smarter ways, so we can deliver world-beating digital services for our customers and colleagues.

The changes we’re announcing today will allow us to maintain consistency of service for customers while we plan for the future which, as now, will include a mixed model of both internal and external delivery using multiple partners.”

HMRC also announced that Capgemini would be providing ‘test and release’ services until 2020, to provide vital quality assurance during the digital transformation.

HMRC has already launched online services that are quicker, lower cost and have tax compliance and security built-in. New Personal and Business Tax Accounts – which work like online bank accounts, allowing customers to deal with all their tax affairs in one place – will be available to ten million personal customers and five million businesses respectively by early 2016.

The UK tax authority has a network of Delivery Centres – hi-tech innovation hubs, based across the UK – which developed an online tax credit renewals service used this year by more than 750,000 tax payers. Apparently, customer satisfaction rates have reached 90 per cent.

Good news for mobile phone users

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

From June 2017, British visitors to Europe will no longer be charged additional fees for using their mobile phones. This is great news for business people who need to keep in touch with their UK base of operations when travelling in Europe. Ironically, it is the UK that has been a vocal supporter of this EU initiative.

The UK has led from the beginning in getting agreement on this point. In March last year, the PM and Germany’s Chancellor Merkel called for accelerated progress towards deepening the European single market in telecoms, including the abolition of roaming charges.

Last month the EU agreed a deal based on those proposals.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“This deal is fantastic news for British consumers and shows that the UK, working with its partners, can deliver real change in Europe, bringing significant benefits for working people. It also shows that the EU can show the flexibility and creativity to deliver changes that benefit people in this country and across Europe.

This deal will deliver major benefits for consumers in the UK, and those across the EU.”

Roaming charges will no longer apply for those making calls, sending texts and using the internet on their phones or tablets in the EU.