Trends in accounting technology have been shaping the world for thousands of years. Today’s accounting trends are spreading fast and transforming the landscape of tomorrow because they are driven by two things that small business owners love to do: reduce risk and increase profitability. Small business owners are particularly responsive to trends in accounting technology because such trends allow them to compete against larger competitors with a digital advantage, even without the benefits of scale. There are three main trends in accounting that are driving the future. The most dominant trend is data and process automation, followed by the evolving nature of accounting software, and an increase in regulation.
Data and Process Automation
Competition has created a need for increased speed and accuracy, especially with regard to how your customers pay for products and services. Automated data entry improves the reliability and integrity of data. It leads to faster processing, improved reporting accuracy, significant reductions in costs, and shorter collection times. For example, automation technology gives you the ability to develop customer-centric solutions for unique billing and payment options without hours of research. The result is a future with fewer payment issues and increased customer satisfaction. In some cases, the automation process may even transform the business model, creating a large increase in profitability.
Evolution of Accounting Software
Another trend that’s changing the future of accounting is the evolving nature of accounting software. The result is accounting software providers engaged in a customer-centric arms race. The learning curve for tomorrow’s accountant will need to be exponential to keep pace. Business owners will also come to view an accountant as an ambassador of sorts. Instead of simply crunching the numbers, your accountant will become the interpreter and cultural ambassador to the land of data. As the trend toward automation increases, so will the expectation placed on your accountant to develop people skills and the ability to relate deeper insights about company performance and the interpretation of data anomalies.
Regulation and Compliance
The growing increase in regulation and subsequent compliance is another trend shaping the future of accounting. The impact of this trend on the future means increased demand for the profession. In the future, you may see salaries grow increasingly competitive. The demand for specialization within industries and topical areas is also growing due to increased regulation, which is driving the use of outsourced accounting. In 2016, Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation published a report on the accounting and finance function after surveying over 1,700 financial leaders in the U.S. and Canada. The report found that the two most commonly outsourced functions in accounting are tax and payroll. These are also the most heavily regulated, as they are both impacted by changing provincial and federal law. While technology may be taking over the automation of data and processes, it can’t replace the need for analysis. The more data there is available, the more analysis is required. The future is only the beginning when it comes to the world of accounting technology.