Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 19 seconds

Making a Fuss Out of SaaS

It was interesting, and unexpected, when the three top players in professional tax preparation decided that this year is the time to make a bigger noise about online professional tax preparation.

In fact, it was very unexpected that at the Illinois CPA Society's Midwest Accounting and Financial Showcase that both Intuit and CCH would make announcements. Intuit had been making announcements on the order of Hansel and Gretel dropping bread crumbs to mark a trail.

But CCH decided this year it was the place to talk about the delivery schedule of its online version of ProSystem fx Tax, along with other applications. These moves are detailed in "Online Tax: the Future Is Now?" in this issue. Call it what you want - Software-as-a-Software service, ASP (I like the simple Internet-based myself)- the fact that CCH, Thomson Reuters and Intuit have all put their plans on the table means they've decided that acceptance of online applications has gotten to the point, it's worth try to sell them more aggressively.

The thing to remember is that platform changes take time. True, accountants leaped on the CD-ROM-based and the Internet-based tax research bandwagons and they tore up the paths to the computer suppliers to move into the multiple monitors. But those things demonstrated clear and immediate savings. Moving from DOS to Windows, some may remember, took more time because many practitioners believed that data entry was faster in DOS. And the dollars-and-cents part of the online equation hasn't been completely demonstrated, although the ability to work remotely and collaborate has a lot of fans in other applications.

My sense is that the professional market is not going to move into SaaS as quickly as consumers have with the online version of Intuit's TurboTax package. And Intuit, with the largest market share, is only readying federal and 1040 state forms for its ProLine Tax for tax year 2009. Like it or not, SaaS, ASP-based, hosted, Internet-based, online, is coming. Just don't be surprised if next year at time I'm writing about a less-than-blistering pace of adoption.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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