Accounting Trends Of Tomorrow: What You Need to Know
(Source: forbes.com)

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(Original link: forbes.com)

In our lifetimes, we’ve all seen technology accelerate every industry it touches. Based on my more than 20 years of experience working in the accounting tech industry, I’ve witnessed this transformation firsthand. Most accountants already use digital tools and are optimizing processes to go paperless. Yet as technology continues to advance and further automate numerous functions, conversations turn to the prospect of human-less accounting. Will Accountants Be Replaced By Robots?
The short answer is no. Discussions of a robot revolution are honestly more sensational than factual. In the real world, the technologies transforming the financial industry will in no way render the human factor redundant.
Instead, technologies like the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain will empower accountants -- and the entire financial services industry -- by reducing manual data entry and improving the speed, accuracy and quality of data.
Accountants who embrace the trends below 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.”
Harnessing The Power Of The Cloud
By 2026, the global market for accounting software will have a value of $11.8 billion (subscription required), according to Accounting Today . Digital is already a given in the accounting industry. With cloud accounting and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and the ability to access financial data from any internet-enabled device, virtualization is the new norm.
The growing ecosystem of applications that integrates with accounting platforms has also proven to be efficient by connecting and streamlining back-office processes for a wide range of businesses and industries.
A counterpoint to cloud adoption rates: Neither desktop nor enterprise software will be going away anytime soon. One of the greatest examples of this is while QuickBooks Online reached 2 million subscribers worldwide in 2017, there’s still a substantial user base for QuickBooks Desktop. Of those online subscribers, 80% are first-time users for any kind of accounting software. These users aren’t migrating from desktop to the cloud; they’re starting online. As the target users for QuickBooks Online are small to medium-sized businesses, accountants play a pivotal role in introducing businesses to the cloud.
Accelerating Automation
By 2020, labor-intensive tasks like tax preparation, payroll, audits and banking will be fully automated -- a trend that’s considered the greatest transformation since the introduction of double-entry bookkeeping 500 years ago.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning won’t make human intelligence extinct. What they’ll actually do is give accountants better access to a range of near-real-time information from a greater number of sources.
For example, a big-picture part of what one of my companies, PayPie, will be doing is using blockchain and smart contracts to exchange secure information between businesses and lenders. AI components will be used to verify the information and ensure that both parties see the information in near-real time.
While algorithms will continue to get more powerful and efficient at compiling big data, computers are only great transactional machines. They can’t replace the interpretive capacity of the human mind. It’s also pretty hard to teach a machine common sense.
Technology will give us access to better data, but accountants are the ones who’ll have to apply this information to the real world to provide crucial business insights and intelligence.
Breakthroughs Via Blockchain
Assuming that cryptocurrencies are the only use for blockchain is like thinking that binge-watching is the only use for online streaming. At the recent Accounting and Finance Show L.A., blockchain (subscription required) and smart contracts dominated conversations.
A single-ledger technology, blockchain is a delivery method that lets users from several sources access the same information in near-real time. For instance, if a business’ risk profile is hashed (tied) to the blockchain, the business and its potential lenders or investors can all access the profile simultaneously.
If a change is made by one party, everyone with access can see this change as soon as it’s validated. Transactions that used to take hours or days will now take minutes or seconds. This speed also comes with greater security and transparency.
Instead of worrying if a transaction has been reported, you can be assured that it was recorded. Auditing, compliance and reconciliation will all be faster and more accurate -- all without time-consuming or error-prone manual data entry.
The Innovative Shall Inherit The Earth
The cloud, AI and blockchain are powerful ways to automate and streamline manual and transactional tasks. However, the functions that are hardest to automate are those that apply specialized expertise to decision making and planning.
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