Platforms or ‘super apps’ are nothing new to consumers. In the business to consumer (B2C) space, super apps such as WeChat in China and Grab in Southeast Asia have transformed our lives as we know it.
They empower us with the ability to arrange transport, send payments, order food and buy goods all through one app – from anywhere, at any time.
Similarly, smartphones can be considered platforms. These smart devices give us access to a vast app ecosystem, from which we can download apps tailored to various aspects of our daily lives.
Each person’s combination of smartphone apps will be different from everyone else’s – making each mobile ‘platform’ unique.
Consumer technology has been evolving at an accelerated pace – and by leaps and bounds in many developing countries. But it is only now that businesses are gaining access to the beautiful world of platforms. A good cloud accounting platform, for example, helps companies to scale with ease – even with limited resources. It can also transform business operations by allowing integration with other cloud software.
Here are five ways a business super app can supercharge your way to success:
1. Add more value beyond bookkeeping
Platformisation – the adding of tools and value to your operations platform. This transforms cloud accounting software into something far beyond a simple bookkeeping solution. It incorporates business features such as inventory management, human resources, and payroll management. The integration of bank feeds and payment providers also helps to make it easier to carry out reconciliation, loan applications and payment transactions.
These add-ons create a customised operations platform offering full visibility of the business performance, with numbers flowing directly from various sources into a single platform. They enable speed and transparency within the organisation and fuels data-based insights and decision-making.
In addition, moving to a cloud-based accounting platform gives businesses secure 24/7 access to extensive company data using the latest technology that was previously accessible only to larger corporations.
2. Enables diverse range of functionalities for different business needs
One app can offer a multitude of consumer and business services on its own, equivalent to the workload of at least one headcount.
Using an accounting platform that has application programming interface (API) integration with these apps is highly recommended. Small businesses can quickly and seamlessly sign up for their services and connect them to their accounting platform almost immediately.
One example is Xero’s ecosystem of over 800 app partners that can cater to various business needs and functions. Its ecosystem already has integrations for payments, payroll and HR tools, data reporting and various business functions. It also offers specific apps that are more tailored to e-commerce players (such as Shopify, A2X, BigCommerce) and inventory management purposes.
This means that any business can shift to cloud-based services for all (if not most) of its administrative and operational tasks, not just accounting.
The platform is only as powerful as its connections. In this scenario, with more service companies and app developers forming partnerships with comprehensive platforms and providing integrations, it will create a community of loyal users from the start.
Hence, selecting the right accounting software is one of the most critical choices business owners will make. When selecting a cloud accounting provider, it is essential to assess the power of its platforms. For example, the number, quality and type of partners that can integrate with it. Start with a cloud-based accounting platform offering a wide range of features available at the outset. You can then integrate it with more digital tools as your business grows. Transitioning to digital tools midway through or long after starting operations could lead to risks. These risks can then become tougher to address, particularly for basic cash flow management.
3. Accelerates banking transactions
No business owner wants to track every transaction manually so it is important to look for accounting platforms that connect to reliable banking institutions. Being able to reconcile bank transactions in bulk, and handle multiple currencies can help to save countless man-hours and avoid costly human errors.
In Southeast Asia, Xero users can connect their accounts via bank feeds with major banks that serve businesses. This includes such banks as DBS, HSBC, OCBC and UOB in Singapore. This enables business owners and their advisers to have their financial data flow directly into the accounting platform.
On the flip side, businesses can leverage accounting platforms’ API to offer their own services to current and future users. This is especially useful for businesses in fintech, such as the financial services and e-commerce companies with Xero app integration. It’s also useful for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) start-ups with connected service offerings.
4. Flexible customisation for business owners and accountants
The success of any accounting platform depends on the professionals who use it the most: accountants and bookkeepers. They determine if a platform abides by industry standards and country regulations. It’s also important that they can use the platform without encountering any problems.
Yet, platformisation also means they can offer and customise their own services through only one software platform.
A platform worth its salt can also provide in-depth resources for its accounting partners to deliver added value that drives business success.
Business owners too are an integral part of the business platform. With all the mentioned platform players providing data that flows seamlessly into the accounting platform, business owners will always have access to all of their financials.
When business operations such as invoicing, payment and forecasting are done in a timely, professional manner, it has a ripple effect. This can lead to better cash flow management, as well as customer and vendor relationship management.
In a world where word-of-mouth is an important way to acquiring new business, this carries more weight than standard promotional material and endorsements.
5. Staying on top of compliance as tax regulations and technology evolve
National governments often change their regulations for tax preparation, categories and filing procedures. This enables them to keep up with local or global developments.
In Singapore, Xero also provides software that makes filings for Goods and Services Tax (GST) IRAS-compliant. So, even if Singaporean businesses are not mandated to switch to digital systems, they can fulfil their tax requirements with ease. This convenience extends to e-invoicing as well. Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) rolled out the Peppol E-Invoicing network nationwide in 2019. This helps facilitate the transactions of digital invoices between companies and with government contractors. With Xero being Peppol-ready, businesses can easily leverage e-invoicing to accelerate their payment cycles.
Platformisation is the way forward
Businesses need to take the cloud accounting selection process seriously.
The accounting platform they choose must build upon its core offerings with custom or partner apps to offer complete access to financial data and preferred services.
Since no platform is complete without its users. The platform must enable business owners and staff to build stronger connections with – and on – it. It must also add their own services to create a customised suite of business operations solutions.
Only then can companies capitalise on the full potential of platforms to deliver customer value and positive business outcomes.
Accelerate your way to success with business and accounting super app, Xero. Sign up for your free trial today.