As every business sector becomes more technology-focused and ready to embrace new innovations, accountants must be prepared to adapt to a new era of accounting.
Their role is paramount for providing accurate, reliable, and valuable financial data so better business decisions can be made that will lead to desired growth.
The adoption of technology is essential to this growth. The technology itself is evolving rapidly - so you need to be aware of what’s going on in the industry to adopt the best strategy for your company.
Automation is changing the way accounting work is being performed.
Manual accounting processes are being ousted in favour of the higher levels of efficiency that automated technologies can bring.
It’s not just individual accounting processes that automation will focus on in 2020; it’s about the entire lifecycle. Capturing, manipulating, and interpreting transactional data will be done by software - with much less dependence on manual entries by accountants.
Automated financial management is becoming more prominent every day, making it easier than ever for companies to enhance their financial processes.
After years of sounding like a futuristic, far-off prospect out of our reach, artificial intelligence is now transforming industries all over the world.
AI and machine learning are being implemented into bookkeeping, with major accounting software vendors offering automatic data entry. It stands to reason that AI will eventually fully-automate tasks like payroll, audits, and even banking.
With proper integration, AI could eliminate accounting errors that are difficult to spot, reducing liability for accountants and allowing them to move into a more advisory role within their firm.
In a research study performed by Forbes, they tested the automation capabilities of four popular AI-enabled accounting solutions, and found that their accuracy varied wildly across the platforms. It’s a promising start, but improvements are needed for automation to become a fully integrated part of accounting.
2020 could be the year we see these improvements.
Blockchain could have the potential to upend the entire accounting industry.
While digitalisation is still in its infancy within the accounting industry – possibly due to its high regulatory requirements – it’s rapidly on its way, and Blockchain for accounting looks promising.
Blockchain, simply put, is an advanced way to deal with fund transfers and finances. It enables complete, conclusive verification without a trusted party.
Instead of maintaining separate records, companies can write transactions directly into a joint register, creating an interlocking system of accounting records.
This standardisation would significantly reduce the time and costs of conducting audits and prove the integrity of electronic files.
Cloud computing has become an essential feature in many business operations, and accounting is no exception.
Everything from expense claims, payroll, asset management, purchase orders and so on can be handled with the application of cloud-based accounting software - all you need is internet access.
Employees can access the data they need even when working remotely, and all employees can access the same, up-to-date information without needing to transfer it manually.
It can also facilitate a paperless environment, which is another shift seen across industries, helping companies who are conscious of their environmental footprint.
While some accountancy firms may have concerns about the security of this technology, Accountancy Age predicts that 78% of small businesses will rely on cloud technology in 2020.
Some areas of accounting have already begun using robotic innovations, such as invoice processing, financial reporting, and accounting reconciliation.
The accounting industry is seeing a shift towards Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and this is expected to continue into 2020 as more routine tasks become automated.
These tasks often have a high effort but low-value exchange for accountants, so RPA can not only allow for greater efficiency but likely improve employee job satisfaction and have an overall positive impact on customer experience.
So what do these developments mean for the future of the accounting industry? This will be determined by the companies able to adapt and embrace these emerging technologies.
AI and machine learning certainly have the potential to accelerate how financial processes are performed and lighten the bulk of repetitive tasks. However, technology is unlikely to replace decision making or take away the accountants’ role as a trusted advisor.
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