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Disruption in the Accounting Industry

Emerging technologies and shifting consumer needs are bringing rapid changes to traditional accounting, altering not only the face of the industry but also delivering new and challenging ways to meet the demands of a new breed of customer. Increasingly, routine accounting and auditing functions are accomplished through automation. This results in a major shift of staff responsibilities, tasks and roles.

Some traditional jobs in accounting firms will become outmoded as automation takes over mundane tasks, driving accountants to learn new skills surrounding technical maintenance, data analytics, data visualization, strategic decision-making and consulting and managerial accounting. Degree programs like the University of West Florida’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in Accounting help students develop the skill with strategic analysis, leadership, managerial accounting, business analytics and modern technologies that today’s accountants need to succeed in the field.

Trends Disrupting the Accounting Industry

As automation continues to take over many accounting functions, industry professionals shift their focus to offer expert advice and strategic insight. offers five disruptive trends that are changing the accounting industry:

  1. Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT).Big Data, analytics and the Internet of things (IoT) are driving modern business, providing leaders with the data and business intelligence tools needed to maximize the impact of data-informed decision-making. explains that accounting professionals use these tools to “move from data entry, recordkeeping and simple analysis to strategic business consultancy.”
  2. Mobile Computing.Most everyone owns a smartphone and uses an array of mobile platforms and cloud services day to day. Thus, businesses and consumers access their data and the internet in new ways, and they expect accounting services providers to keep up. Accounting software vendors are responding by creating advanced, secure apps that offer seamless customer experiences across mobile platforms while integrating with more comprehensive enterprise-level software.
  3. Connection Convergence.High-speed internet and advancing technologies enable the widespread use of video conferencing between accountant and client, a “connection convergence” that facilitates remote engagement and the internationalization of the industry. notes that with the normalization of remote communications like video conferencing, “bookkeeping services companies will be able to service clients around the globe as well as around the corner.” Indeed, international, real-time meetings happen daily in the post-pandemic world.
  4. As noted above, the automation of bookkeeping, data entry, financial reports, compliance audits and other accounting functions disrupted the accounting industry and will continue to do so. The exhaustive processing cycles of the past are giving way to highly automated accounting ecosystems. According to, “modern automation software cuts costs, increases efficiency and handles more processing volume with less error.”
  5. Customization and Personalization.Personalization has become ubiquitous. Accounting services providers must offer their clients a “standardized menu of products and services” with highly customizable components designed to meet client expectations and needs. explains that service providers achieve this using workflow technologies and scalable software to grow services along with the customer’s developing needs. Such innovative technologies increase efficiency and scalability, allowing accounting advisors the time to add further value through offering “deeper insight, more detailed analysis and a closer working relationship.”

“In many ways,” claims, “the future is now.” Automated services are prevalent throughout accounting and financial industries, from tax preparation apps to fraud protection services. “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.”

Can Accountant Training Counter Disruption?

Deficiencies exist in current training for accountants. Students graduating from antiquated accounting programs may not have the knowledge and skills needed to excel in strategic accounting roles that complement AI-driven automation of foundational accounting functions.

In fact, developing the evolving skills needed in modern accounting will soon be a necessary part of preparing for the CPA Exam. The “CPA Evolution” launches in 2024, a joint effort of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). According to NASBA and the AICPA, this initiative “is transforming the CPA licensure model to recognize the rapidly changing skills and competencies the practice of accounting requires today and will require in the future.”

The new CPA Exam will incorporate three core sections which every CPA applicant must pass. Each test taker will also choose one of three discipline exam sections which they focus on as a specialization. Accounting technologies and technological concepts are fundamental to the new CPA Exam, underlying the core sections as well as the discipline sections.

Clearly, advanced accounting degree programs must incorporate in-depth study of both the technologies used in modern accounting and the strategic advisor role high-level accountants will now occupy. In ways, online accounting MBA programs are uniquely suited to this evolution of accounting education. These programs can adapt curricula quickly, incorporate the study of emerging technologies and topics, and integrate those studies with strategic management and leadership studies.

Perhaps that accounts for the growing popularity of accounting-focused online MBA programs like the one offered by the University of West Florida. UWF’s accounting MBA program offers a thorough understanding of 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.”

Learn more about the UWF online MBA with an emphasis in Accounting program.

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