Technological trends have changed the way we conduct business, and they’ll continue to shape the future of all types of industries, including accounting. All businesses measure success in numbers, which is why accountants are in such high demand. As an accounting professional, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest technologies that can make both your personal and professional life easier. Being comfortable with technology can also help you stand out in this highly competitive field.
Whether you’re just starting out as an accountant or you’ve been a CPA for decades, you may not think much of your preferred accounting system. Unfortunately, if your accounting software doesn’t keep up with the changing times, you could be out of business within a few years.
If you are considering or already pursuing your bachelor’s degree in accounting online, technology will likely be central to your experience. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of growing technological trends. Here are just a few of today’s accounting technologies you should be familiar with in 2017.
There’s been a noticeable shift toward cloud computing recently that makes it one of the most essential trends to watch this year. In fact, according to Forbes, worldwide spending on cloud services will grow at a rate of about 19% CAGR – from 70 billion in 2015 to over 141 billion by 2019. You’ve undoubtedly heard the buzzword “cloud,” but what exactly is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the storage and accessibility of data online rather than on your hard drive. Accessing programs via the cloud gives you a free flow of information no matter where you are or which device you’re using. Using the cloud also gives clients or colleagues the ability to access the data you select, making it easier to collaborate and exchange information.
In fact, many popular accounting software options are only available in the cloud. These include QuickBooks Online, Kashoo, Xero, and FreshBooks, just to name a few. Cloud-based accounting programs do require a subscription agreement to store and access your 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 meets your ever-growing needs.
Blockchain technology is poised to change the accounting game as we know it, but what is it? In simplest terms, blockchain is the distribution and decentralization of database technology. Blockchain can protect encrypted data and maintain an expanding list of transactions between all parties of those transactions.
Especially in the financial sector, blockchain technology has the potential to change entire industries as we currently know them.
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.” Each accountant, auditor, or company will have their own privately managed databases, but both sides of the transaction will be recorded at the same time in a shared ledger.
As we quickly approach the no-coding era of accounting, 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 accounting jobs will become more lucrative than ever. As we move away from time-based billing, accountant knowledge and experience are seen as the 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 keep you in business.
Cloud-based accounting systems like QuickBooks are considered automated accounting programs, but we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. With automated accounting, you’ll be able to utilize the latest technologies that highlight anomalies or patterns without your manual data input.
Optical Character Recognition
In 2016, optical character recognition (OCR) hit the ground running in tax software, making accountants’ lives easier. OCR is a fairly new technology that scans printed matter or handwriting into machine-readable text. When you can scan a handwritten note (or photograph of a note) and create an electronic document, you can share information with colleagues and clients in no time.
When you integrate OCR with accounting software, you can then perform a simple search to find the information you need. You can also copy or edit information as required. The best part is that OCR allows you 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, makes you a 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 technological trends create an accounting software powerhouse that is far removed from the accounting practices of just a few years ago.
Still overwhelmed by the growing trends? We’re only starting to see a shift toward these new technologies, so now is your chance to get ahead.
Don’t hesitate to get onboard with these exciting accounting trends. While the technology may be completely different a decade from now, these accounting technologies can boost your value in today’s industry and help you land the clients you need to succeed in your career. An advanced degree can have a similar effect!
If you are interested in pursuing a career in accounting, start with an Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree from Maryville University.