Technology is automating repetitive, task-oriented accounting operations and opening new, strategy-oriented roles to identify opportunities for growth, vulnerabilities and innovation.
Ernst & Young, for instance, found that nearly 75% of finance managers and executives believe artificial intelligence — algorithms that analyze huge volumes of data to mimic problem-solving and decision-making — will enable accountants to shift their focus toward “high-value, high-impact tasks.”
Other trends in technology that are shaping the future of accounting include cloud-based systems, blockchain (an advanced technology for maintaining unique histories of interactions), mobile accounting and even social media.
According to Forbes: “Accountants who embrace the trends … will have a greater capacity to advance their roles as trusted, value-added advisers and analysts — rather than number-crunchers or the dreaded ‘bean counter.'”
How Does Technology in Accounting Drive Growth?
Results of surveys by various sources as reported by Finances Online show more than half of large and mid-sized accounting firms are using cloud-based accounting software; 33% of small practices are early adopters and nearly 8 out of 10 plan to continue or start investing in it.
Cloud-based systems enable accounting firms to access data anytime from anywhere — vital as remote-working policies expand — access non-financial data such as inventory, sales and expenses and create more efficient workflows.
As the industry continues migrating to the cloud, Finances Online notes, it “is taking a major leap for more effective and comprehensive financial reporting and analytics.”
Cloud computing also provides advantages in addition to remote access and automation that saves time and money and reduces errors, notes Ace Cloud Hosting. Other growth-drivers associated with accounting in the cloud include:
- Real-time metrics: Analyzing cash flow, earnings and other data as available lowers the risk of mistakes in financial reporting and supports data-driven decision-making.
- Superior data privacy and back up: Network-wide encryption and multi-factor authentication protect systems and databases from cyber intrusion.
- Flexible scalability: Expand storage capacity as needed to eliminate costly, time-consuming hardware upgrades.
- Improved control: Organization-wide access to databases permits authorized users to access, edit and review information as needed.
- Green friendly: Cloud computing enables the organization to reduce power consumption, reduce utility costs and support ESG reporting, which is increasingly important in establishing business relationships.
“Making the switch to cloud accounting increases a company’s cash flow and profits where half of the tasks like data security, security updates, cost-savings are performed by the chosen cloud service providers,” according to the service provider Ace Cloud Hosting.
What Are Job Prospects for Accountants in Technology-driven Practice?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 7% annual job growth through 2030 for accountants and auditors, with 135,000 positions open each year.
“Human accountants should never be underrated,” Forbes notes. “The specialized training accountants receive will both gain and add value … and accountants are needed as trusted advisers.”
Practitioners can prepare for the future of accounting by earning a Master of Business Administration in Accounting (MBA) through a curriculum that includes exploration of management information systems, strategic management and accounting information systems.
Learn more about Fitchburg State University’s MBA in Accounting online program.