Few professions have had to endure the rapid technological change of the 21st century like the accounting industry has; from new recruits to seasoned veterans with decades of experience, accountants everywhere are constantly scrambling to keep up with the latest game-changing piece of tech. Increasingly, that means today’s accountants are focusing on blockchain, the latest innovation that’s coming to fundamentally reshape how accountants do their jobs in an increasingly interconnected economy.
So, what exactly is blockchain, and what does it mean for accounting in the era of automation and the internet of things? As always, accountants have little to worry about, and more to prepare for; blockchain, like other innovations shaking up today’s markets, will change how accountants do their job and automate some more menial task, but in the process will help accountants do more with less as they make better decisions with the aid of technology.
Upending accounting with blockchain
Blockchain is the latest step in a long line of digitization that’s rapidly making yesterday’s accounting industry a thing of the past. With blockchain, accountants can now rely on a global digital ledger of transactions that help them make better informed decisions, as updates are received in real-time in the form of secure data bits that are very challenging for hackers to get their hands on. Blockchain’s security is perhaps just as important as the speed at which it brings accountants data, something to keep in mind during today’s era of never-ending hacks.
Blockchain builds off the reason boom in artificial intelligence, which already has many accountants worry about their long-term job prospects. Like worries about automation are overblown because they don’t factor in forthcoming job creation spurred by these disruptive technologies, current worries over blockchain potentially “replacing” accountants aren’t based in reality, and miss the big picture; blockchain will only further empower today’s accountants, and will continue the digitization trend in accounting that’s demanding better educated and more experienced personnel.
Blockchain and other technologies like it will continue to automate the auditing process of accounting in particular, meaning accontants will be spending more of their time as analysts and fewer hours crunching numbers and double-checking forms. Furthermore, blockchain will increase the trend of working remotely in the accounting industry; with real-time updates pouring into your cellphone, tablet or laptop, accountants will be able to monitor more accounts than ever before from the comforts of their living rooms or home offices.
Blockchain also improves the data verification process and will help accountants clamp down on fraud and cybersecurity breaches by constant employee computer monitoring. As blockchain-like technologies reshape the field of accounting, accountants should expect to shoulder more of the security-burden by exploiting tech like this and will come to be expected to be familiar with emerging tech long-before it goes mainstream.
Preparing for blockchain-driven accounting
So now that we know what blockchain will do to the accounting industry, what should savvy accountants be doing to prepare themselves to properly exploit it well into the future? The answer is simple, and mirrors those offered in response to other automation dilemmas; tomorrow’s CPAs will need greater levels of education and significantly more familiarity with tech if they’re to survive in the long run.
Accountants need to get a grip on blockchain, in particular, and need to do so fast; automating technologies hit hard, and they hit fast, which often results in the boogeyman, job-stealing aura that surrounds them. To insulate themselves from the negative effects of this kind of automation, and instead be positioned to benefit off it, accountants will need to become skilled at managing automated processes and making data-informed decisions. Blockchain can’t make today’s firms more efficient and secure if the accountants in charge of implementing it in the business world don’t understand it or the broader digital revolution.
As accountant’s old services come to be dominated by automated algorithmic processes, accountants will need to pivot, adapt, and offer new services to remain relevant. Blockchain means that typical auditing procedures and other grunt-work previously handled by accountants will melt away seemingly overnight, and that accountants will instead have to be more human-focused. Accountants who learn how to explain complex data sheets to their clients, for instance, will find that the widespread use of automating technologies doesn’t have to mean they become obsolete.
Ultimately, blockchain is a much greater opportunity than it is a threat to accountants. Its widespread adoption won’t be easy or cheap, nor will it be comfortable for accountants dead-set on sticking to their old ways. Those accountants which embrace blockchain as the disruptive engine of change it is, however, will find their jobs much easier, much more tech-dependent, and much more lucrative than ever before. Blockchain is readily reshaping the world of accounting, and today’s accountants need to hop on board if they don’t intend to be run over.