Emerging technologies and shifting consumer needs are bringing rapid changes to traditional accounting, altering not only the face of the industry, but delivering new and challenging ways to meet the demands of a new breed of customer.
According to The CPA Journal, accounting and auditing functions are currently experiencing a huge wave of automation which will eventually result in a major reduction in staff. Industry experts predict the traditional mix of jobs in accounting firms will change substantially as traditional tasks become automated, forcing accountants to learn new skills such as technical maintenance and analytics. polish their analytic aptitude.
Trends Disrupting the Accounting Industry
As automated functions continue to take over many accounting functions, industry professionals will shift their focus to offering expert advice and insight. AccountingDepartment.com offers five disruptive trends that are changing the accounting industry:
- Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT). Technologies based on Big Data, business intelligence and IoT are rapidly changing all aspects of business, giving leaders unimagined amounts of information and analytical tools for better decision-making. These same tools will be used by accounting professionals to move from mundane tasks such as data entry, recordkeeping and simple analysis to strategic business consultation.
- Mobile Computing. Most everyone owns a smartphone. And their vast numbers and different platforms offer huge challenges as businesses and consumers increasingly use them to access their data and the internet. Accounting software vendors are responding by creating online portals and apps specifically built for mobile devices. Accounting services will offer updates and advice to their clients in the form of bite-size chunks of information suitable for small mobile screens.
- Connection Convergence. High-speed, two-way conversations via video streaming between accountant and client become very doable as TV and broadband services continue to converge. This trend could accelerate the internationalization of the industry. Accounting companies will be just as easily able to serve clients across the globe as clients across the street.
- Automation. The shift to data automation for bookkeeping and accounting is a dramatic example of disruption in the accounting industry. Invoices used to begin processing cycles as a fax, paper document or email attachment. These were then converted into enterprise planning system (ERP) formats. Modern automation software is more accurate, increases efficiency and cuts costs.
- Customization and Personalization. Look for big changes as accountants begin offering their clients a standardized menu of products and services, while having the ability to customize those services for individual clients. This will be achieved through workflow technology and writing software to build scale and create efficient service delivery. Value is added to the client through deeper insight, more detailed analysis and a closer working relationship.
In many ways, AccountingDepartment.com said the accounting future is now. For example, automatic services are commonplace in many sectors of the industry. Also, automated tax preparation apps are heavily used by consumers during tax season.
“Some experts predict a hybrid approach where advanced technology will sit comfortably with human advisors to offer clients the best of both worlds — unparalleled data analysis combined with the human touch,” the website says.
Can Accountant Training Counter Disruption?
Some experts see deficiencies in current training for accountants. Students graduating from traditional accounting programs usually do not have the knowledge and skills required by employers, CPAJournal.com says, and this especially holds true for workplaces with a high level of adoption of automation and artificial intelligence.
Online accounting MBA programs may hold an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar schools, the website says or states or reports.
The creation and adoption of new courses usually takes a long time in traditional business schools and there is a risk the new course will be cancelled if too few students sign up to take it, the website explains.
“Online education platforms can gather large and diverse pools of traditional and emerging courses in a relatively short time and at lower cost and store them for ad hoc demand,” AccountingDepartment.com says or states or reports. “Students who feel the need to acquire new skills not taught by traditional accounting programs often turn to these online education platforms to gain that knowledge.”
Perhaps that accounts for the growing popularity of accounting-focused online MBA programs like the one offered by the University of West Florida. The program offers a thorough understanding of a business from the financial, marketing, supply chain, economic, information systems and strategic perspectives, giving students a “real-world knowledge of accounting that is immediately applicable.”