Technology is rapidly reshaping the accounting industry, making certain skills and knowledge obsolete but at the same time creating opportunities for accountants to offer new services in the marketplace. For future accounting leaders, perhaps the biggest determinant of success is staying ahead of the technology curve so new innovations enhance one’s business, not replace it. Those entering the accounting profession during this time of swift technological evolution can grow into successful leaders by developing the right skill sets.
Understanding Digital Technology
Accounting leaders with outdated skill sets often fear technology, an understandable concern given that software and apps complete many of the rote duties accountants used to perform. Because accounting software integrates so easily with other business technology, such as point-of-sale systems and tax software, less need exists for accountants to sort and organize historical data; computers put this data in the proper rows and columns as it is produced.
But where technology has obviated the need for accountants in one area, it has created great demand in others. Companies have access to more data than ever, much of it highly valuable, enabling business leaders to make smart decisions. By helping their clients make sense of the piles of data they have access to, accounting leaders who understand digital technology can make themselves indispensable.
Embracing Entrepreneurial and Culturally Diverse Thought
As baby boomers retire en masse and millennials become the de facto majority party in the workforce, accounting leaders must understand how to attract and retain the top talent from this younger generation, one that embraces starkly different ideals from its predecessor. Gone are the rigidly defined corporate hierarchies and boardrooms homogeneous in both appearance and ideology. This generation prizes openness, communication, and diversity of thought. Moreover, it has an entrepreneurial mindset. Even those working for someone else want to feel as though they’re running their own business within a business, not serving as a cog in a machine.
By promoting diversity and an entrepreneurial spirit within their firms, accounting leaders not only attract the best talent from a modern crop of professionals, but get the most out of that talent.
Developing a Deeper Business Acumen
Accounting leaders of the past could sustain thriving businesses by simply focusing on their clients’ books, ensuring everything was reconciled, keeping their clients in compliance with tax laws, and so forth. Now that technology has taken over such tasks, accountants must have a more holistic approach to servicing clients, learning about all aspects of their business and not just their clients’ credits and debits. The goal is to become a trusted advisor, someone the client makes sure to call ahead of any significant business decision to solicit advice. To make this a reality, accounting leaders must develop a broad business acumen, one that isn’t myopically focused on number crunching.
Technology has wrought sweeping changes in the field of accounting, but with change comes opportunity. Tomorrow’s accounting leaders can prime themselves for success by ensuring they are developing the right skill sets.