Technology: Love it or loathe it, it’s here to stay.
Lots of accounting tasks such as preparing accounts, conducting audits or filing R&D tax claims are still, to this day, done manually. Some accountancy practices are still physically updating spreadsheets, printing out reports and storing paper trails in big filing cabinets.
But, as technology literacy is the top skill needed by accountants today, to keep up with the ever-increasing competition, these old-fashioned methods simply don’t cut it anymore.
“The majority of accountants today feel that traditional accounting is no longer enough to remain competitive.” – Finance Online
Below are five of the biggest movements in technology that all accountants and accountancy practices should welcome into their business with open arms.
But first, let’s establish why technology, in general, is a good thing for the accounting world.
Why embrace the tech?
In the accounting industry, some fear that the rise of robots brings with it a threat of job obsoletion. But instead of seeing technology as something to be feared, we should see it as an opportunity to:
Save time by reducing busy-work
“Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics are automating complex and repetitive tasks and processes in the accountancy sector.” – AccountancyAge
The daily life of an accountant is filled with a million different tasks, ranging from invoicing clients and categorizing expenses to paying vendors and reconciling transactions. But what if there was a way to cut this daily to-do list in half?
Embracing technology means that routine tasks like data entry or updating inventory records won’t clog up your mind or take over your day. Technology can free you up to focus on the bigger, better more interesting stuff.
Service clients better
Technology allows you to evolve the way you operate and massively improve the client experience. Things like live chat, website analytics and accountancy software allow you to focus on offering your customers the best possible experience, effortlessly.
As we’ve just established, technology will allow you to operate more efficiently and improve your customer experience. If your competitors have embraced the technology that allows them to increase their productivity levels and keep their customers happy, and you haven’t… where does that leave you?
As 85% of accountants believe the accountancy and finance industry in the UK needs to pick up technology adoption to remain competitive, I think it’s time to embrace the tech, don’t you?
Question is, which technology trends should you be adopting?
Accountancy tech trend #1: Make better business decisions with big data
Did you know that big data recently overtook ‘liquid gold’ as the most valuable resource on the planet? But what is big data and how can it possibly be worth more than gold?
What is big data?
Big data is a large volume of data that’s so big it can’t be processed by traditional tools such as excel, you need to use advanced software systems to collect, analyse and harness it.
Big data is collected from three main sources:
- Social data: Social data is collected from social media platforms. For instance, every time someone conducts a web search, likes a post, makes a comment or shares a meme, data is collected.
- Machine data: Machine data is gathered from machine learning. So, things like web tracking tools, image processing, smart meters, road cameras and satellites.
- Transactional data: Transactional data is the data that’s collected from everyday business transactions like paying for orders, generating invoices, updating storage records, and processing delivery receipts, for example.
How does big data help you make better decisions?
Big data is worth more than liquid gold because it provides you with priceless insights that you can use to help you make better, more informed business decisions.
You could use big data to track a client’s performance more accurately, identify operational inefficiencies, generate better forecasting models or identify new ways to improve tax setups for instance.
Accountancy tech trend #2: Improve client experience with the cloud
We’ve all probably heard of ‘the cloud’. But what is it really? And how will using the cloud help you improve your customer’s experience, specifically?
What is the cloud?
“The cloud" refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers.” – Cloudflare
Basically, the cloud is a collection of data centres. These data centres store data on remote servers which can be accessed through the internet. So, instead of having to be in the office to access an important client file, you can access it at any time, from anywhere, on any device.
Why is the cloud so crucial for customer experience?
With over two-thirds of accountants saying that cloud computing accounting software will help them in their role in the future, how does the cloud improve customer experience?
Put simply, the cloud makes life more convenient for both you and your clients. It allows you to connect and communicate with clients regardless of the time, location or device you’re using. This means you can serve them quickly, efficiently and effectively.
Plus, because the synchronization and security of data can be ensured by your cloud provider, your client will know that their information is up-to-date, safe and secure, which gives them (and you) added peace of mind.
Tech Trend #3: Complete tasks quickly, accurately and consistently with automation
With 58% of accountancy professionals looking to invest in automation within the next three years, just what is automation all about? How does it work and more to the point, why should you care?
What is automation?
“More than half of C-Suite executives believe automation will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of their accounting operations.” - INAA
Automation is an umbrella term that incorporates several different technology developments, including things like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotics.
Automation takes a manual task and turns it into an automatic one. Like with a car, for example: when you upgrade from a manual to an automatic vehicle, the task of changing gears is automated making it easier and quicker to drive. That’s automation.
The basic idea behind automation is that it automates a task or activity to make it more efficient, consistent and error-free.
But cars aside, how can automation speed up accountancy tasks whilst also improving consistency and accuracy?
How can automation help you get tasks done quicker, more consistently without mistakes?
Put simply, automation will take over the repetitive and menial jobs such as manual data entry or recording inventory, so you can concentrate on the bigger and better things that will bring in a higher ROI.
The output of automated tasks is guaranteed to be more efficient, accurate and consistent because it’s powered by technology, not by humans and their inevitable human error.
What accountancy tasks can you automate?
Harnessing the power of automation means you can eradicate long-winded processes and labour-intensive tasks that contribute little to your ROI.
But what sort of tasks are we talking about?
There are countless accountancy tasks and processes that you can automate. Things like bookkeeping, invoicing, expenses, payroll, cash flow forecasting, payments, practice management can be automated. You can even automate the process of filing your client’s tax claims.
For instance, if you need to file an R&D Tax Credit claim on behalf of your client, you might speak to an R&D Tax specialist like Myriad Associates, who will take care of the claim for you. Or, you might choose to use an online R&D Tax return portal, like Tax Cloud which will automate the process for you.
What is Tax Cloud & how does it automate the R&D tax claim process?
Tax Cloud, which is powered by R&D tax specialists Myriad Associates, makes the process of claiming for R&D tax credits quick, easy and error-free. Once you’ve signed up, simply log into the portal and follow the steps to make a claim. You get free training on how to use the portal and also full support from the R&D tax experts at Myriad Associates throughout the entire R&D tax claims process.
But the real beauty of Tax Cloud is the ability to integrate with Xero. With Xero integration there’s no need to manually transfer information from one platform to another, it’s done automatically.
This saves time, money and mistakes.
“There have been a number of automation innovations in tax software, which have helped improve accuracy while reducing margins of error, which is something businesses want to embrace in order to avoid tax penalties and prevent issues with stakeholders.” – AccountancyAge
Tax Cloud is one of these.