How Technology Will Change the Accounting Industry Over The Next 5 Years

October 29, 2020

The projected growth of accounting jobs is a promising notion, with the BLS estimating a 10% increase in accountants and auditors through 2026, but rapid advancements in industry technology can’t be overlooked. Accenture, a leading consulting firm, recently told Forbes that “automation, minibots, machine learning, and adaptive intelligence are becoming part of the finance team at lightning speed.”

Of course, this intelligent tech is nothing new, with McKinsey Global Institute estimating that nearly half of industry work activities could already be automated using existing technology — and countless companies have followed through. With a growing amount of accounting processes already being enhanced or completed with the help of these solutions, it’s important to look ahead at how the continued adoption is going to impact the industry in the next few years.

#1 The Human Role Will Keep Evolving

Experts have posited that countless activities that are traditionally handled by accountants will soon be wholly automated. Maryville University, for instance, predicts that automation will soon take over everything from “supplier onboarding, accounts payable, audits, procurement, purchasing, expense management, close processing, and customer queries.”

While that may very well sound like a major threat to the need for an accountant, the fact is that automation is simply expected to take over the monotonous processes humans currently handle. That means, in a modern organization, the future accountant would be focused less on these repetitive tasks and more on advanced data analytics, making them the critical link between their work and their employer or clients.

#2 Companies Will Continue Transitioning to The Cloud

With the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and countless other intelligent technologies being integrated into the cloud, there is no doubt that cloud computing will be at the core of a future accountant’s tech stack. More companies are already moving to cloud-based systems thanks to the ability to leverage such technologies, and due to the sheer scalability and multi-device accessibility cloud computing offers.

That means accounting professionals can look forward to a future that is decidedly based in the cloud, with instant access to data and computing resources along with up-to-the-minute information. All things considered, this is advancement denotes a greater capacity for accountants to perform their duties effectively, allowing them to better analyze data and make decisions based on the most recent information available.

#3 A Single Robot Could Do The Work of Four Employees

Robotic process automation (RPA) has the potential to minimize and optimize processing to the point that CPA Journal predicts the time it takes to process audits and contracts could be cut down to weeks rather than months. These robots have the potential to mimic the work of a human employee, and — according to CPA Journal — “can generally be implemented without the need of IT infrastructure upgrades.” The cost of installation could be as low as $8,000 for an annual license, and each software one could potentially take over the equivalent work of 3 to 4 full-time employees.

“After installation, these robots can be called upon at any time by an employee, activated with a timer, or triggered by a preselected event,” article author, Paul Lin (PhD), wrote. Meanwhile, Lin predicts that combining these software robots with the power of AI and ML will make them even more impactful by empowering them to self-learn overtime.

#4 A Greater Dependency on Mobile Applications

It is no secret that society as a whole has developed a unique dependency on mobile devices and applications, and the accounting industry is no different. Already, an emerging list of applications are helping to optimize accounting tasks and bring the power of the connected world directly to employees’ fingertips. Depending on business need, these applications can be utilized to create and send invoices; document and organize receipts; gather signatures, and much more. 

Of course, these applications aren’t standalone solutions. To work efficiently, they’ll need to be connected to the cloud-based systems that act as the foundation for such applications. Only with such a system in place will these applications be effective in offering more efficient processes that require less touch work.

#5 Increased Use of Social Media

Social media and digital marketing, in general, have played a crucial role in the growth of many industries — and accounting is next on the list. Many firms have already begun making use of social media to engage with their current clients and prospects, enabling them to strengthen their brand and expand their business’ reach. Gary Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting, is just one expert who recognizes social media to be a valuable sales and marketing tool in the industry.

Being able to instantly connect with clients and prospects is something that more accounting firms should be taking advantage of, with most still primarily focused on traditional marketing tactics. By working digital marketing into their development plans, they’ll be in the position to better meet their goals and compete against emerging competitors.

#6 More Emphasis Is Needed On Cybersecurity

As technology continues to take over many of the core accounting processes, and with cloud systems holding more sensitive information than ever before, one tech aspect that many firms are still behind on is the importance of cybersecurity and data protection protocols.

Fortunately, innovative technology is working to address this aspect of the accounting evolution as well through deeply-integrated security systems and advanced protection from malware, hacking attempts, and the other modern threats that come along with the industry’s advancement.

#7 Growing Reliance on Software Assistance

The traditional pen and ledger simply won’t cut it anymore. As the majority of accountants have already made the move to software-based processes, this trend of software reliance will only continue as new tech promises to further enhance and optimize processes. With specialized accounting software, like Multiview ERP, professionals are able to more quickly and accurately handle computations while gaining deeper insight into the data available to them.

After implementation, the benefits begin realizing themselves, as demonstrated in countless case studies. Take South University, for instance, whose Finance Director stated: “Our former processes required so many steps and had so many controls, and sign-offs in place month’s end took a couple of weeks. The exports and the general ledger structure in Multiview make it easier. It now takes less than a day to complete our month end close.”

Are you seeking a solution that can help you step into the future of accounting? Click here to learn more about Multiview and how we can help your organization make the most of the exciting technology that’s emerging and evolving right in front of your eyes.