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Part 1 - How has the tech landscape changed in accounting?

2nd Aug 2023
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Xledger is a leading provider of next-generation cloud-based finance software. 

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Technology has always influenced the accounting profession, and with almost every major tech breakthrough comes new tools and opportunities for accountants, as well as challenges to overcome.

How has the tech landscape changed in accounting?
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In recent years, we’ve seen great strides in the availability of business data and the extent to which it can be analysed, allowing accountants to take a more forward-looking view and advise their clients on the future of their business.

The pace of change shows no sign of slowing, and we can expect this to continue impacting the way accountants work and the services they provide to their clients in the years to come. 

In this series, we’re going to hear from our CFO at Xledger, Knut Rønning, about what we believe will be the key things for accountants to get right. Our first article looks at AI and automation.

Impacts of AI automation 

It’s impossible to talk about the tech landscape in 2023 without mentioning the dramatic advances of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years – but these changes are only part of an ongoing drive towards more automated systems.

“AI has had a lot of attention these days, but it's only part of the long-term digitalisation and automation trend that has been going on for decades,” says Rønning. 

“It's another turn of the wheel, though, and it makes it more obvious to people that something is happening, and that you need to be on top of that development unless you want to be left behind.”

Generative AI and large language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT have taken the spotlight of late, and while these tools focus primarily on text outputs, similar technologies are increasingly being applied to finance systems to improve the quality and efficiency of automation. 

Improvements in computing capacity have also allowed for more powerful AI tools to analyse financial data, highlight patterns and identify outliers.

This, coupled with the wider access to real-time data brought about by cloud systems, makes for better informed analysis and more up-to-date information on businesses’ performance.

While it’s easy to be swept up in the AI hype, it’s also crucial for businesses to adopt these technologies in practical and strategic ways. Rønning notes that to cut through the noise and really understand the opportunities AI presents, businesses need to take a “thoughtful” approach:

“We’re very keen on making systems automated and digitalised. But that’s not done by putting a robot on top of things and mimicking manual handling.”

Purchase-to-pay is an example of a process that is becoming increasingly automated. In the past two decades, Europe has moved towards a digital payment process, with EU initiatives including the standardisation of XML file formats, and the promotion of digital procurement processes by public bodies.

Similar changes are likely to happen in the UK over time as larger businesses digitalise their processes and suppliers are required to adapt – although, without a national purchase-to-pay standard, these processes might be more varied.

“It's bigger enterprises that are really in the driver's seat for this,” says Rønning. “And they’ll have a major influence on how this will develop and to what extent it will spread to midsize and smaller enterprises.”

Next week we’ll publish the second part of this mini series, where we’ll be looking at the rise in outsourcing.

Xledger’s specialist accounting and financial management software offers the advanced functionality you need to meet this challenge, meeting the needs of complex customers when they outgrow more entry-level accounting tools.

Book a demo or contact Phil Chalmers on [email protected] to learn more