Technological trends have changed the way professionals conduct business, and they’ll continue to shape the future of every industry, including accounting. Businesses measure success in numbers, which is why accountants are in such high demand.
However, if you choose to pursue this career path, it’s important for you to always stay up to date on the latest technologies that can make your professional life easier — and make you a better accountant. Being future-focused and comfortable with technology, and adaptable as professional, can also help you stand out in this highly competitive field.
Keep your knowledge of accounting technology up to date.
Whether you’re just starting out on the path to becoming an accountant or have been a CPA for decades, you may not have been thinking as deeply as you need to about which accounting technologies you’re utilizing. If the accounting software you rely on isn’t current with changing times, you could find yourself and your company behind the curve within a few short years.
Today, clients expect their accountants to offer automated services, and accounting professionals of all specializations are struggling to meet those demands. A survey of roughly 400 owners of small to mid-sized accounting firms by Accountex and CPATrendlines found that IT budgets at these firms had jumped by 75 percent.
If you’re considering or already pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting online, technology will be central to building your experience. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of emerging trends. Here are a few of the most important accountant technologies we suggest you be familiar with in 2019.
There has been a noticeable shift in cloud computing technology recently that makes it one of the most essential areas for you to watch as an accountant.
In fact, according to Forbes, worldwide spending on cloud services is expected to grow at a rate of about 19 percent compound annual growth rate — from $70 billion in 2015 to more than $141 billion by 2019. Many professionals have undoubtedly heard the buzzword “cloud,” but what exactly is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the storage and accessibility of data online — in the cloud — rather than on a hard drive. Accessing programs via the cloud gives a free flow of information, no matter where you are or which device you’re using. The cloud also gives clients and colleagues the ability to access certain data, making it easier to collaborate and exchange information.
Cloud computing is already a big deal in accounting, and you can further establish yourself as a forward-thinking leader in the field by brushing up on your knowledge of the popular accounting software options available only in the cloud. These include QuickBooks Online, Kashoo, Xero, and FreshBooks.
Cloud-based accounting programs require a subscription agreement to store and access data, as well as to utilize the provided tools and software, such as purchase orders, expense claims, payroll, asset management, and even multi-currency accounting.
Given the wide variety of cloud-based accounting options, it’s easy to find the right subscription that will meet your changing needs as an accounting professional.
Blockchain technology is poised to change the accounting game — and it can help you stand out, if you know how to use it.
In simple terms, blockchain is the distribution and decentralization of database technology. It can protect encrypted data and maintain an expanding list of transactions among all parties involved. Especially in the financial sector, blockchain technology has the potential to transform entire industries.
Accounting is currently based on a double-entry bookkeeping system in which the accountant and independent auditor input and verify a company’s financial information. With blockchain technology, there’s no longer a need for this kind of redundancy, since the data are verified without another party. It’s a complete, automated audit of each individual transaction.
It’s widely understood that when multiple parties are involved in a transaction, they tend to keep their own records of it. This process is extremely inefficient and time-consuming, and there are often issues with reconciling differences between records.
According to Digital Asset Holdings CEO Blythe Masters, blockchain “is just a way of using the modern sciences of encryption to enable entities to share a common infrastructure for database retention.” That means that blockchain technology allows both sides of a transaction to be recorded at the same time in a shared ledger, even as each accountant, auditor, and company maintains a privately managed database.
Automated Accounting Technology
The business landscape is quickly approaching the no-coding era of accounting, which means there will be virtually zero data entry required in the industry. Automated technology has always presented the double-edged sword of convenience and the replacement of humans with technology.
But are accountants’ careers truly threatened? According to Accounting Today, the more likely outcome is that your future in accounting has the potential to become more lucrative than ever.
As industries move away from time-based billing, your knowledge and experience will be your most valuable commodities. Virtual controllers of automated accounting technologies will be in high demand, so even if you have to redefine your role as an accountant, being a high-value virtual controller can help sustain your career path.
A Forbes article echoes this sentiment, arguing that automated technology will make accountants’ lives more efficient, cutting down the time spent on manual entry and reducing human error. This is good news for your future in the field, since Atherton Research predicts that common accounting tasks, such as tax preparation, payroll, and audits, will be fully automated by 2020.
Cloud-based accounting systems such as QuickBooks are considered automated accounting programs, but they represent only the tip of the iceberg. With automated accounting, professionals will be able to utilize the latest technologies that highlight anomalies or patterns without manual data input.
Optical Character Recognition
In 2016, optical character recognition (OCR) hit the ground running in tax software, making accountants’ lives easier.
OCR applications scan printed and handwritten documents and convert them into machine-readable text. When they can scan a handwritten note (or photograph of a note) and create an electronic document, professionals can quickly share information with colleagues and clients.
The integration of OCR with accounting software allows accountants to perform a simple search to find the information they need. They can also copy or edit information as required. The best part is that OCR allows accountants to cut hours of work from such tasks as itemizing receipts, organizing invoices, tracking expenses, and eliminating paper clutter.
Becoming well-versed in OCR, among other growing trends, can make you a highly valuable employee for even the largest accounting firms.
Fortunately, OCR is finding a home in automated, cloud-based applications, including Yooz and Neat. When combined, these trends in accountant technology have transformed the accounting practices of just a few years ago.
Explore accounting technology careers.
If you are an aspiring accountant interested in learning about emerging accounting technology trends, now is a great time to get started.
Developing a strong understanding of cloud computing, blockchain systems, automation software, and other related technologies can boost your professional value in today’s industry and help you land the clients needed for maintaining a successful careers.