|Accounting Hypercubes on the Internet||Back|
... the economy is a single mathematical model.
Single-dimension transaction list:
Two-dimensional breakdown by type, by month:
3 dimensional breakdown by type, by month,
3 dimensions never fit on paper. You get a cube, or stack of squares, such as the monthly budgets for many departments, or combined budget for many product lines. It becomes more convenient to browse with a computer.
A hypercube is any cube of more than three dimensions. You get a stack of cubes. Requires computer to read and navigate.
Drill-down means that when you double-click, the row expands like Windows Explorer but showing breakdowns of the dollars instead of file listings. What is Drill-Across? ...read and play with these vendor's views/demos
|Accounting systems are gradually, and very cautiously, being
interconnected via the internet. In 2000 the country is busy rolling out bill
presentment and payment, online storefronts, web-based business services, and all manner of B2B and supply
Clearly, in the future, our transaction infrastructure will be better evolved both in internal database technology and its communications. It will become effortless for individuals and small companies, to remit funds, send invoices, order goods, etc. with browsers or network devices.
The emergence of internet payments technologies and high-powered accounting hosts on the internet has been sudden. It may take a decade or more for large numbers of individuals to wake up to the potentials. Some of the most explosive potentials are already possible, today.
The online payments and accounting infrastructure enables individuals, for the first time, the creation of partnership accounting systems that are capable of operating mostly automatically, with feedback to the participants in real time.
These would enable individuals (or companies) to participate in collaborative ventures of arbitrary complexity by enabling allocations of revenue they helped to generate, or in allocations of costs or cost pools from which they have drawn resources by their activities.
Go to Yahoo Calendars. Hundreds of thousands of people already use, or are familiar with, shared calendars on internet. Now, see E-room or Intranets.com or LinkUAll which enable shared discussion and files as well as calendars. (There are dozens of project and collaboration websites equally as good for particular needs.)
Now, imagine these with a powerful accounting hypercube beneath, where you could view every cent of every transaction of the venture, and the way it was allocated to members. Imagine these with realtime facilities that give you the power, every day, to control and limit your exposure:
Imagine that the system had gotten stable and functional enough to produce all the paper filings and reports and tax returns, and print them on paper, and send to governments which so richly deserve these huge paper documents.
The sheer complexity of these affairs and the speed with which they can be created and destroyed, completely compliant with the law, will pose great challenges to regulators and taxing authorities. You will be able to analyze contracts written in XML with boutique XSLT transforms and filters and reports, to control the fine print you are signing.
Technology will reduce the risks to participants in partnering with new, untrusted ventures. Nick Szabo's Smart Contracts contains a useful catalogue of technologies and practices. There are many research sites pursuing solutions for authentication, nonrepudiation etc..
At some point, large corporations may awake to find that one remaining factor preventing teams of hundreds of employees from devolving out into collaborative groups may be the absence of standard metrics for A) what their peoples' capabilities really are, and B) what their propensities or desires really are. This is where XML will really shine. HR-XML is one example of a technology for encapsulating these characteristics of anybody willing to throw themselves into this brave new world.
Five years from now there will be CPA firms and consultants will performing services
that do not even exist today. For example, financial virtualization of companies. I don't
know what the term will be. Maybe "LLC Conversions", or perhaps there will not
even be any "Company" at all. A WebLedger having intercompany journal
entries represents a frictionless trading environment among thousands of unrelated
subscribers -- The "eBay of partnerships" and unofficial joint ventures.
After wave upon wave of integration of individual finance software, internet based accounting systems, payments systems, etc. what will emerge is a single, gigantic computer model of the entire human economy.
So why not REALIZE that fact immediately and apply what we already know about large computer models: to be useful they must be accurate. There must be tables or structures which most accurately represent the underlying territories. The attributes of entities must be represented in columns of tables, in properties and methods of software objects. Data redundancy must be eliminated. Business process must not be stored in entity tables.
Why not recognize that accounting and personal finance software at nodes throughout the network must reconcile with one another in order to be accurate? Frankly I expect web based accounting systems like Oracle Business OnLine to deploy high-level services that span the different businesses within their server (completely unrelated companies!) in order to reconcile differences as well as effect money transfers. The bank will truly reside on the data bus of some damned server in Redwood shores, there will be no banks on streetcorners.
Perhaps double entry accounting will, basically, be dropped where the actual data from the actual accounting system of other side of each accounting entry is substituted for what we traditionally posted on our own ledger. Yes, your balance sheet assets and liabilities will equal the vendors' and customers' balances and there will be no reconciliation because there will be only one set of numbers. (Today we have eight sets of numbers -octuple entry!)
Perhaps the web-based accounting system of the future will be only a chronology of transactions with five columns: Date/Time, Sequence number, Debit Person Number, Credit Person Number, Amount. This type of thing is entirely possible within the subscriber population of any webserver-based GL today. All the rest of the information for the transaction would be optional, and kept in custom tables, with field level need-to-know access, such as a Public Transaction Repository.
Since the beginning of the computer era software has been built with the overriding purpose of making money for the developer. Rare exceptions exist, such as smtp email, and they show how brilliantly software can perform when it's purely designed to do a job, without the constraint that it must extract a percentage, spread, or fee from people reliably and robustly, permanently.
What will it take for the Vendors of Web-based accounting systems to build accurate, unbiased models that enable ubiquitous commerce and settlement? To just allow people to deal with anybody we like? At present, proprietary vertical solutions present a twisted representation to the user of what is happening. What users can buy is limited to the company store. They learn only metaphors that contain the service provider's angle. Customers cannot sell anything to other users on the same host, on the same hard disk! --the view of financial data seems completely inward focussed. You cannot break out, you cannot click-through to view the external entities from your balance sheet.
We are living in the era when engineers build bridges without being responsible for engineering safety. Does twisted cognitive space cause harm?
Pure and accurate information systems are the key to a future, in which we will get the work done in more congenial, consensual and joyful ways.
|Todd Boyle CPA
Kirkland WA c 2000 all rights reserved
1800-1950 Machines take over most of the physical work
1950-2000 Machines take over most of the mental work
-OK then, what other kind of work is there? Work on metadata.
The economy is done. what we're doing now, is really self-expression.
a play of consciousness, in perfect freedom.