Categories
Web

Microsoft plunges into social networks with accounting and finance site

This is probably the type of thing I should be blogging about. The phrase “right in my wheelhouse” comes to mind. The intersection of several of my favourite things: accounting, technology, and social networks.

Microsoft Dynamics logoMicrosoft has announced a new “community” around Dynamics Live specifically for accounting and finance professionals. The site isn’t named yet but if you join now you can participate in the poll to rename it and vote for any of three uninspiring names: Capital Chat, Finance Forum, or Net Knowledge.

I joined up, the better to assess its chances at gaining a foothold in a rapidly evolving sphere.

Networks are only as good as their users, and LinkedIn already has a bundle of them. I wonder whether another network focused on this demographic, even if its further specializes at first in accounting and finance, can really offer something new.

Microsoft is planning to advertise the community through their Dynamics product, but the community may be perceived to be advertising for their other products.

I’ve read that Dynamics has respectable market penetration, and personal experience bears that out as several clients I personally work with use it. If Microsoft can harness their current users into producing quality content for the community, they may hold the key to attracting new users.

What do you think?

Categories
Web

The Web is no longer linking information: it’s linking people

(Via AccMan.)

Categories
Web

Study shows how hard it is to cancel accounts

Tom Spring of PC World conducted an unscientific study into how difficult it is to cancel subscription services purchased over the internet, and the results are in. It’s not easily done.

To evaluate how difficult canceling an online service can be, I signed up for and then canceled 32 accounts, each at a different site. About a third of the services in my sample made the seemingly simple goal of canceling very hard to achieve.

I’ve always been wary of free trials and the like, because I had a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t be as easy to get out as they made it out to be. This study just confirms those suspicions.

Why do companies do this to their customers? How much damage are they doing to their brand with these shenanigans? Is it worth keeping someone on against their wishes?

Categories
Web

Mining Wikipedia for accounting topics

Wikipedia logoWikipedia is a good source of information about a variety of topics. I’m pleased to find that it’s generally pretty good about accounting too.

The article on the Balance Sheet contains “case studies” showing the effect of some transactions on a very basic balance sheet.

As well, I’d never seen non-current liabilities referred to as “fixed” liabilities before, although I’m familiar with “fixed assets.” Guess I’d just never considered the contra terminology!

It makes sense though, given that they result in fixed costs to the business, in general.

The article on the Income Statement shows some examples from Colgate-Palmolive and Viacom and gives instructions on calculating earnings-per-share.

Pensions have been in the news lately, with FASB announcing revised standards regarding the funded status of defined benefit plans.

Wikipedia’s pension entry provides a solid description of the two types of pensions, defined benefit and defined contribution.

I learned something new on the pension page as well:

In an unfunded defined benefit pension, no assets are set aside and the benefits are paid for by the employer or other pension sponsor as and when they are paid. Pension arrangements provided by the state in most countries in the world are unfunded, with benefits paid directly from current workers’ contributions and taxes.

It’s not surprising to find out we don’t learn how to account for these types of pensions in school. It’s basically pensions on a cash basis. Pay the cash, recognize the expense.

Poor matching of expenses to the revenue they helped generate – which is no doubt why governments are the only organizations that get to use this type!

Have you ever contributed to Wikipedia?

Categories
Web

Microsoft invites Firefox developers to test for Vista

Microsoft has invited the Firefox guys up to Redmond to test Firefox and Thunderbird on Vista to ensure compatibility. The move isn’t entirely unexpected, after all, Firefox has been steadily eating into Internet Explorer’s market share ever since it was released.

It isn’t a wholly benevolent move, however. Microsoft is making sure all the big applications run smoothly on Vista because if they don’t, people won’t upgrade from XP. Microsoft is seeking out big developers now in a big effort to get all the major programs tested.

Previously Microsoft had focused exlusively on commercial developers but Sam Ramji, Director of the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft posted on the mozilla.dev.planning newsgroup in an effort to get the ball rolling.