Revealed: Microsoft partners' big data project for 100,000 accountants

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Revealed: Microsoft partners' big data project for 100,000 accountants

Three Microsoft partners have been revealed as the brains trust behind a major project by the peak body for chartered accounts to help their members compete with the 'Big Four' accountancy firms.

HubOne, MOQdigital and Rhipe have been involved in the development and distribution of a covert technology initiative for the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), dubbed 'Kairos'.

Using a single sign-on, the platform lets users access a powerful combination – bringing together the analytical and visualisation capabilities of Microsoft PowerBI with data from leading accountancy suites such as MYOB, Xero, Reckon and Sage, as well as tax office portals, billing software and CRMs.

The aim of project Kairos is to give the accoutancy association's 115,000-plus members access to "skills and tools to access big data in a meaningful way".

According to an article in the Australian Financial Review, Kairos will put small accountancy practices on "an even footing with big four accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst&Young and KPMG".

Mark Rice, CA ANZ general manager commercial, told the newspaper: "We asked what we could do to help small and medium accounting practices prepare for the 21st century. Time and data is where firms need help."

Rice described Kairos as "Excel on steroids".

According to the AFR report, CA ANZ has been "extremely secretive" about Kairos, seeking to avoid software developers like Xero and MYOB from catching wind of the move, through which the association will become a platform providers for its members.

In practice, the big data platform will create a new opportunity for other Microsoft partners to resell the solution to their own accountancy customers, said HubOne founder Nick Beaugeard.

Intellectual property from HubOne and MOQdigital – the company created by David Shein's rollup of Breeze and Technology Effect – will be packaged, hosted within the Microsoft public cloud and distributed by Rhipe to its network of more than a thousand partners.

Beaugeard explained that Kairos leveraged IP that HubOne had built for its flagship product, the Modern Practice. The version for CA ANZ members is dubbed "the Connected Practice" and has been rejigged for chartered accountants.

"MOQ are doing a portal and big data and Rhipe are working as our distribution partner so we can take Connected Practice through the channel. Instead of HubOne selling the Modern Practice to accounting firms, we are taking our technology and allowing the rest of the channel to sell it to CA ANZ members," he explained to CRN.

CA ANZ chief executive Lee White said that Kairos represented a significant step for SMEs and chartered accountants. “There will be a huge demand for professional advisers who are commercially astute and data-savvy who can use predictive analytics to make better business decisions, particularly from small to medium sized enterprises. Chartered accountants are ideally positioned to take advantage of this."

The move also exemplifies the trend among resellers to become vendors in their own right. Here, HubOne and MOQdigital have built their own IP and are selling it back via the channel thanks to leading distributor Rhipe. 

Nicki Page, chief executive of MOQdigital parent Montech, said: "MOQdigital are really leading the way with their own IP and integration platform called 'IoT Central' using the latest technologies from Azure IoT suite and Cortana analytics with a number of customers flocking to gain real time access to their data."

MOQdigital was recently revelaed as developing a "smart" hardhat being trialled by Laing O’Rourke.

Beaugeard explained that the next step would be to create a partner portal so accountants could identify approved IT suppliers from the Microsoft channel and enlist these channel partners to deploy Kairos.

CA ANZ revealed the project to coincide with the government's innovation agenda, while also revealing an addition to its Graduate Diploma to help fill demand for an estimated 30,000 data managers required by 2018 in Australia and New Zealand.

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