The rate at which technology continues to reshape accounting is showing no signs of abating, as demonstrated by the following accounting tech trends that we expect to play a crucial role in the industry in 2020.
The field of accounting has changed a great deal over the last few decades largely in response to the way that technology has reshaped the global economy.
Much of the work that an accountant does today, and in particular, the technological tools that they use, would be unrecognisable to an accountant from 30 years ago.
Effective communication with clients is essential as a means of lead generation for any accounting firm.
We will talk in more detail about how improving digital contact channels can help accounting firms to grow their business and engage with customers, but it is worth focusing specifically on video because of its unique place in the ecosystem.
Video calling is one of those technologies that was predicted by every science fiction film for a couple of decades. Now that we have the ability to video call people from smartphones that we carry in our pocket, few people seem interested in doing so.
People might FaceTime with one another now and then, but the default is still a voice call for most people.
Video-based remote communications enable businesses to recapture some of the essence of a face-to-face meeting even if they are talking while separated by many thousands of miles.
In terms of building a brand and establishing loyalty among your customer base, the more personal your communications with other businesses are, the better it is for your business.
Data is an important resource for just about any business operating today.
But accounting is a business that is quite literally built upon data. The more robust an accounting firm’s data analytics capabilities are, the more insights it can gain from its clients’ data.
When it comes to advising clients on how to best invest, spend, and save their money, data analytics enables businesses to draw out insights that would otherwise remain elusive to them.
Data analytics are important, not only for assessing data relating to other businesses but also for assessing data relating to your own business. If you want to formulate more informed strategies for the future then incorporating data analytics into your strategic planning is an effective way of achieving this.
Of course, simply having access to the data itself is going to do much, it is only once the data has been processed and analysed that it can be used in order to provide insights. Once the analysis has been completed and conclusions have been drawn, it is then important that those conclusions are disseminated throughout the business and relayed to all those who need to know them.
Anyone with a reasonable amount of experience working in the accounting profession can tell you that data is playing a very important and increasingly prominent role in shaping the industry.
A student who studies for a master of science in accounting today, such as this course, https://online.suffolk.edu/programs/ms-accounting, can expect technology to play a bigger role in their professional lives than at any point since the profession’s inception.
3. All-in-One Communications Platforms
We touched earlier on the importance of communication from the perspective of video communications.
However, video communications are only one type of communication out there and represent just a single potential channel.
If you want to connect with your users and provide them with the best possible level of service, then you need to provide them with lots of options for contacting your business.
In addition to making sure that you are available via the usual channels, it is worth considering launching a dedicated app to connect customers with your business.
Through an app, you will be able to provide your users with a number of different options for contacting you. Some of these will work within the app itself while others may allow users to connect to you via third-party services.
The point is that you need to provide as many communications channels as possible to your customers and try to balance the service that you offer so that it is evenly accessible across all of them.
In other words, your customers should have the same experience regardless of the manner in which they contact you.
4. AI and Machine Learning
In order to truly harness the power of data analytics, it needs to be combined with machine learning technology.
Machine learning algorithms enable us to analyse data in ways that are quite literally superhuman.
Machine learning algorithms are capable of spotting patterns that are far too nuanced and complex for humans to understand, but which can provide enormous predictive power to automated systems.
The field of accounting revolves around data analysis, whether on behalf of accounting firms themselves or their clients.
Accounting firms with access to the most powerful analytical tools will, therefore, be at an advantage in all of the services that they offer.
As well as providing insights into financial data machine learning and artificial intelligence are also being used in other applications within the accounting field.
For example, there is a growing need for automated translation services, something that machine learning enables us to do with much greater accuracy.
5. Adaptive Security
Cybersecurity was once quite a niche concern and something that the majority of businesses didn’t really bother with.
Of course, that kind of attitude seems absurd now that we have a much better understanding of just how prevalent cybersecurity threats are in the real world.
Businesses across all industries and of all sizes have fallen prey to cyber-attacks. In many cases, attackers are looking for the personal data of clients.
If this is leaked then it can cause huge reputational damage.
As a result, we can expect to see increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity systems being deployed by accounting firms. This is a trend that we shall likely see repeated across other industries, but in industries that are particularly client-centric, it is even more important that sensitive and personal data is protected.
6. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is another new technology that has become so ubiquitous that we don’t even really think about it anymore.
You would be hard-pressed to name a single industry in the modern world that was not embracing cloud computing in some form or another.
Whether it is being used to provide access to an entire network or just to enable workers to access files while they are away from the office, cloud computing will continue to play a multifaceted role in the field of accounting.
The increasing reliance on cloud storage and other cloud-based services will further emphasise the need for these accounting firms to invest in stringent cybersecurity measures.
Processing sensitive data locally is one thing, but as soon as you allow that data to travel through the cloud you are potentially leaving it exposed, especially if you do not take the necessary cybersecurity precautions.
7. Social Media Outreach
Social media platforms are the single most important battleground for brand reputation in the modern era.
If you cannot cultivate good press on social media channels, then it can significantly impact the wider perception of your business online.
They say that no press is bad press, but any business that has had a negative reaction on social media will be able to tell you that this is wrong.
The businesses that tend to get into the most trouble with their social media marketing tend to be those that have the poorest understanding of the world of social media and technology more broadly.
In the past, accounting firms have been included in this, but accounting firms today are required to utilise a variety of technologies in order to provide their services efficiently, accurately, and securely.
Tech-savvy accounting firms today will, of course, recognize the potential power of social media from a marketing perspective.
We can expect to see an increased drive towards more outreach on social media platforms from accounting firms.
This ties in with the growing trend for accounting firms to take on an international clientele.
The number of accountants in the United States is on the rise, and there is not enough domestic growth to satisfy the increasing demand for work.
As a result, a growing number of accounting firms are beginning to turn overseas for new business.
Online marketing and social media, in particular, will be very important for any accounting firm that wants to make inroads with another market overseas.
There are very few, if any, businesses today who have not been significantly impacted by the advances in technology over the last couple of decades.
Accounting businesses are certainly no exception to this rule and have benefited substantially from a number of technological innovations.
In fact, the rate at which new technologies have permeated the accounting industry and changed the way that accounting businesses approach everyday tasks has taken some industry analysts by surprise.
The trends listed above are just some of those that we expect to play an important role in defining the accounting industry and what it means to work as an accountant in 2020.