The Changing Role of Accountants: How Technology has Changed The Accounting Industry

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Technology has transformed many industries, from manufacturing and retail organisations to food and beverage companies. The accounting profession is not immune, and technology has changed the accounting industry through automation, cloud-based apps and SaaS solutions.

How technology has changed the accounting industry

Many in the accounting profession have already embraced the fact that cloud services and technology will continue to influence the industry in the form of cloud-based apps. These applications simplify such activities as purchase order processing, accounts payable and receivable, billing and invoicing, fund accounting and tax management.

The growing adoption of cloud-based apps means that an increasingly larger selection of accounting activities will be hosted in the cloud. Driven by greater agility, mobility, cost benefits and simplified IT infrastructure, it will allow accountants to work from any location.

Artificial intelligence and robotics have automated complex and repetitive tasks and processes to reduce operational costs and increase efficiency. Innovations in taxation software have improved accuracy while reducing margins of error.

The changing role of accountants

A notable effect technology has had on the profession is the ability of accountants to now work from virtually anywhere. This, in turn, grants smaller firms greater access to global customer and talent pools that were previously out of reach.

Prior to the availability of cloud services, an accountant was typically involved in many aspects of their client’s business. With the dynamic shift toward accounting software programs becoming more automated, there is an increased demand for business planning services and the role of the accountant is changing to that of a business advisor role.

Opening new opportunities for the accounts to engage with clients, focussing on business strategy instead of number-crunching processes. Accounting roles are also becoming more separate with a more specialist approach to some accounting services such as taxation, bookkeeping, brokerage and to more specific roles for cloud integration.

This changing role of accountants requires new sets of skills and requires accountants to stay abreast of technological trends, be open to learning new technologies and learning to optimise accounting software solutions and cloud-based apps to meet the needs of their organisation.

Cloud-based accounting apps

Industry-specific applications provide accountants with secure, anytime access from any device. The applications can easily track cash flow, scan receipts, send quotes and track sales and expenses.

Many of the applications offer a full-featured suite of accounting solutions that can track time and expenses, invoice clients, reconcile your bank statements, and handle many of your other accounting needs. With a host of add-ons such as payroll and HR systems, CRM and POS software that will easily integrate with the client’s inventory control and warehouse management solutions. 

Industry providers of cloud-based accounting apps, such as Xero and Unleashed are now providing application playbooks and advisory courses to ensure industry clients have a strong foundation from which to get started, enabling accountants to build connected platforms and provide strategic advice to guide clients through the process.

Accounting for technology

While technology’s disruption of the accounting industry began somewhat slower than in other industries, the evolutions in accounting software, mobility and cloud-based apps, has changed the everyday activities of accountants. Accountants will have to embrace these rapid advances in technology to remain relevant in the accounting industry.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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