The role of the accountant has evolved as technology has developed. No longer are accountants burdened by administrative tasks and today they are true advisers to their business.
Tech advancement has been welcomed, too. According to the latest research from Sage, 86% of accountants are happy for technology to make administration elements of their job invisible. However, 38% of respondents also stated that technology is the biggest threat to their jobs.
Technology trends affecting accounting
Cloud computing has been adopted across many industries and accounting is no different. The cost to implement cloud based applications can be expensive but it can offer significant long term savings. Cloud based adoption is being driven by greater cost benefits, mobility and agility. It does however raise concerns around data protection.
According to IBM and Ponemon Institute in 2016 the average cost of a data breach was £2.53 million. With increased regulation on data security and accountants holding sensitive data, ensuring data security will continue to be a core priority for businesses. One of the key aspects in ensuring data security is deciding on where and how to manage sensitive information, which means understanding the risks associated in cloud computing.
Big data has made a big splash over the past few years. It allows accountants to offer real time insight to their business for leaders to make better informed decisions.
It is, however, important that accountants know how to recognise the noise from the hype surrounding big data, and can provide relevant data that can make a difference for their organisations. According to the latest report from The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the UK Government’s tax authority, HMRC, has been at the forefront of using big data to combat tax fraud. With an initial investment of £45 million, they have generated £1.4 billion addition tax revenues within its first year.
One of the biggest disruptors across all industries is automation. Artificial interlligence has allowed businesses to remove the need to manual data entry and streamline their processes, giving the business more transparency and the opportunity to highlight inefficiencies and create more accurate KPIs.
It also allows accountants to spend time on more business critical tasks and become advisers to the business. According to a recent article from Sage Exchange, Carl Reader, director of d&t Chartered Accountants, states: “If you look at accountancy 20 years ago, the vast amount of work involved paper records. With automated bank feeds and many processes going online, that’s pretty much become a thing of the past”.
Automation will not replace the need for commercial awareness and the crucial ability to make informed financial decisions but accountants who embrace automation and use the value it brings will be able to cut costs and drive efficiency across not only their function, but across the business. The ability to embrace new technologies and glean value from the insight they can provide will be a differentiator for you in the industry.
Although initial investment is needed to make the shift to a more technology friendly function, the long term benefits can outweigh the upfront investment. By adopting new technology and staying abreast with the advancements for accounting, accountants can deliver greater efficiencies to their business and position themselves as a real business adviser.