The role of an accountant has been continuously changing over the course of the last 50 years, and the next few years will see three key technologies impact the accounting industry immensely. Currently, accounting is in a transition period due to the growing popularity of cloud-based accounting, which has left a mark and changed even the everyday activities of an accountant. The impact and pace of technology will only increase in the future where tomorrow’s accountant may look very different due to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and cloud-based apps, and blockchain technology.
Artificial intelligence and automation
Automation has already begun to transform accounting. This technology trend shows more productivity and cost-effectiveness. This is the result of more business processes becoming automated, particularly in areas like data collection and data processing.
We have already seen this shift result in accountants starting to take more of a consultant role to clients. Accountants are adding value in new ways, for instance, providing crucial financial and business advice. This trend will be further driven by advances in AI, already having the capabilities to automate complex and repetitive tasks and processes, with extreme accuracy, reducing operating costs and increasing efficiency.
AI is not to be seen as a threat but as a compliment for today’s changing roles and embrace AI technologies to understand how they can work for a better tomorrow.
Cloud computing and cloud-based apps
Cloud computing is a type of Internet-hosted computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. Further developed into mobile apps, has allowed accountants to perform accounting tasks from any location as well as the ability to deliver financial information and reports through the cloud. This technology trend opens up a new way for accountants to work with their clients. This is transforming accounting as it frees up time to engage with clients and focus on business strategy instead of getting burdened with detailed and time-consuming processes.
While many accountants have already embraced the cloud and cloud-based apps, the use of the cloud will continue to expand with a larger portion of business operations and apps being cloud hosted. This expansion is being driven by greater cost benefits, mobility, agility and simplified IT infrastructure.
Blockchain technology shows some promising potential for the accounting industry. This technology trend enables entities to share a common infrastructure for database retention. For instance, instead of companies keeping and then reconciling records of the same transaction in their separate, privately managed databases, both sides of the transaction can be recorded simultaneously in a shared ledger. This process is less prone to human error and fraudulent behaviour as it makes falsifying or destroying financial records practically impossible. More benefits of blockchain technology include standardisation and increased auditing efficiency. It will allow auditors to automatically verify a large portion of the most important data relating to financial statements.
Even if we look ahead just a few years, we can start to see where and how the role of technology is likely to transform the accounting industry. Accountants will need to embrace the rapid advances in accounting technology to remain relevant in the accounting industry. This includes staying up to date with technological trends, optimising and adapting current accounting software to meet the needs of their firm and clients, and being open to accepting and learning advancing technologies.