Technology is driving momentous change in the accounting industry. Ask your accountant what they do and chances are they will provide an answer that includes examples of leveraging technology, interpreting data and results, and generating solutions. Whatever happened to keeping the books?
Technology is what has happened to keeping the books. Consider the following a short sample of ways technology is changing the accounting profession. First, technology is changing what it means to be an accountant and the skillsets that define the profession. A recent article on AccountingWeb provided a nice summary of the crux of this change: valuable analysis based on . . . access and understanding of financial data.
Another impact of technology relates to increased precision and an exponentially greater range of insight into the financial data available for analysis. This impact is driven by the rise of artificial intelligence and its application to accounting functions. As noted in a recent Illinois CPA Society article, parsing data is no longer a necessary task of the human brain. The algorithms in artificial intelligence find the hidden nuggets of information within a data set and the human brain can then be used to interpret the data, attach significance to the data, and communicate any valuable insights provided by the data.
Let’s also not forget the professional flexibility the developments in technology bring to the profession. Accountants no longer have to be tethered to their desk and technical resources. Two developments, cloud computing and mobile accounting, provide the professional accountant with the ability to work anywhere on virtually any device at any time. Cloud computing leverages the Internet for the storage and transfer of data. The accountant only needs an Internet connection to be able to work using cloud computing. On the mobile side, apps are being developed for the specific purpose of enabling accountants to work from their phones. One example of an accounting app is the app developed by Xero.
Finally, let’s not forget about social media. Social media provides accounting firms with a means to locate prospects, engage clients, and share content faster and more effectively than in the past. These are just some of the ways technology is changing the accounting industry. It is an exciting time to be an accountant and an exciting time to leverage the possibilities accounting can offer!