The accounting industry is not what it was twenty years ago. While the fundamental principles have remained the same, it is the technology advancements that have changed the accounting profession. For example, the recent CPA exams focused on automation, data analytics and the need for a digital and data-driven mindset.
What accounting firms and finance teams can offer to their customers and clients has vastly changed for the better. Here are ten of the biggest technology trends that businesses can leverage to offer more.
Cloud technology can be deployed within an accounting firm to cater to their technology needs. Businesses can choose to have as much or as little of their IT on the cloud. They can even outsource the management of the technology to managed service providers (MSPs). Infrastructure like storage and servers can be placed on the cloud, eliminating the need for on-premises hardware.
Cloud computing allows for accounting and finance teams to work with any device, anywhere around the world and supports remote working. The pandemic has changed the way accounting teams operate and collaborate.
Cloud technology is adaptable and allows for a streamlined approach to technology where departments work side by side in a centralised, digital location. Digital collaboration has become fast and efficient with communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, which features live editing of documents, and enhanced video, meetings, and presentation capabilities.
Accounting software, which was once installed on individual PCs, can now be accessed remotely through cloud technology. Cloud providers like Microsoft offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) accounting solutions where the upkeep of the software and hardware sits with them. Accounting and finance professionals can support their clients in keeping their own financial records on the cloud using SaaS. The clients retain ownership of the data and simply manage access for the accountants, giving the client full control.
Lots more data
Accounting has never had so much data available, thanks to technology like the cloud that can collect big data sets. One of the many benefits of cloud technology is that it provides real time data on any business process. This means that financial information is readily available, such as hourly reports.
The health of a business can be monitored in real time to inform business strategy or to identify weaknesses, so they are addressed sooner rather than later when they become bigger, more expensive problems to solve. Customer data can be collected via the cloud so that products and services can be directly marketed based on behaviours, needs, and wants.
While this acceleration n data this is more the norm today rather than a trend, as data visualisation tools become more and sophisticated, and the types of data that can be collected more varied, what can be achieved in this space in the future has yet to be realised.
The speeds at which computers and the internet operate today has allowed accountants to do more and work faster. Especially within data analytics in the auditing space, computing power has changed the speed in which data is processed and reports generated. Gone are the days of waiting for a program to analyse enormous amounts of data.
Devices connected to the cloud access the speed of the cloud platform, which is provided by companies such as Microsoft, who have powerful servers located all over the world. When accountants need to obtain large data sets from their customers, files no longer need to be emailed. Sharing large files and financial datasets online via the cloud is no longer a burden.
Cloud technology enables data analytics tools and machine learning technology to use enormous amounts of structured and unstructured data to study trends in real time. Insights from data can be used in forecasting to inform critical business decision-making, or in accounting tasks such as auditing. This reduces the workload of an accountant and saved time can be reinvested into priority tasks like analysis, planning and strategy.
Outsourced IT support
As technology increasingly advances and more accounting and finance functions become digitised, the requirements for IT staff to support these technologies has increased. Rather than hire staff in-house within an accounting firm, the trend has been to outsource IT support to companies such as Managed Service Providers (MSPs). MSPs provide specialist IT support 24/7 x 365 days, with a predictable, monthly costing structure.
With so much of the world’s finances now digitised, the accounting industry has had to grapple with maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture. If an accounting firm were to fall victim to a cyber-attack where client data was compromised, this would severely damage its reputation.
While the Australian government has released the Essential Eight mitigation strategies to help businesses, accounting firms can also turn to MSPs for advanced cybersecurity protection to help safeguard their digital assets.
Continuous accounting is a new term made possible by robotic process automation (RPA). RPA is software that automates mundane, repetitive, and rule-based processes, such as reconciliations or invoice processing,
These accounting tasks can be embedded into daily activities as opposed to being accumulated at the end of the financial year. RPA improves efficiency and data integrity, so accountants are not wasting their time trying to solve accounting errors.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The internet of things (IoT) is a term to describe objects or devices that contain sensors, metrics, or other inputs like video. They connect to the internet for the purpose of sharing their data with other IoT, computer systems, and networks.
Some of the accounting tasks IoT can be useful for include automated transaction processing, asset tracking, and inventory processing. IoT devices can directly integrate into a company’s accounting system and keep data up to date in real-time.
Technology is moving at a rapid pace, but accounting firms and finance teams need not be overwhelmed by it all. Talk to the IT experts at Lindentech today, about how they can help your finance business become more productive and get better results for your clients.