As Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote in her 1850 masterpiece Sonnets from the Portuguese, “How do I love accounting software? Let me count the ways.”
Okay, we’ll admit: it’s been a few years since we read her collection of poems, so there’s a slight chance we’re misremembering. But the spirit of the quote? That still very much remains: there is so much to love about thee. And by “thee” we mean the technology that is reshaping the way accounting firms do business.
From when the first beta electronic spreadsheets were introduced to the IBM 1130 in 1962, to the tectonic shifts we’re witnessing today with blockchain, data automation, and the advent of artificial intelligence, the accounting industry has long stood on the front lines of technological advancement. It makes sense, of course. For as long as money continues to make the world go round, the arc of technological innovation will surely follow.
The impact of new technologies is an increasing concern for accounting professionals. It’s not the change itself that is concerning, however — it’s the pace of it. What was once perhaps a slow ripple across a pond now feels more like the surge of a tsunami, and if firms are unable to stay abreast of it, they risk getting lost in the churn.
David Vaudt, chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, addressed this exact issue in an interview last year. “The relevancy of the accounting profession in the next decade will be largely impacted by how capable we are at visualizing and harnessing the potential benefits of new technology, and how willing we are to make the changes necessary to take advantage of the enhanced technology of tomorrow,” he said.
For a teaser of these changes, look no further than Microsoft Excel. Once considered the most important skill sought in a prospective employee, Excel proficiency has experienced a significant fall from grace: according to CFOs, it’s now among the least important skills. That’s a far cry from its former position as the software that changed the modern economy.
The most important skill, according to CFOs? The ability to adapt to new technologies, especially in the area of automation. Nowhere has the strongarm of automation’s arrival been felt more than in two of a CPA’s mainstays: tax prep and audits. Increasingly, these common services are being automated. While this might sound like the opening scroll of some Mad Maxian financial dystopia where accountants are no longer required, it’s actually anything but. Here’s how Accounting Today frames it: “…rather than marginalize the importance of an accountant in an organization, financial and accounting automation software increases it. It unlocks the business analyst, entrepreneur, and manager within accountants, emancipating us from the mundane work occupying a majority of our time.”
That’s not just a good thing. It’s a GREAT THING. (All caps necessary for affect.) Technology has blown the accounting business wide open in ways other industries dream of. By ushering these new financial tech tools into their offices — please, sit down; would you like a cup of tea? — and by embracing all they have to offer, accounting firms have the chance to unleash new potential for consultative services. This unique opportunity, for the knowledge worker turned early-adopter, is already seeing many firms becoming the bell of the proverbial ball — life on the cutting edge is increasingly attractive for new clients, and in the eyes of existing clients, it gives them reasons to move you up their value chain.
To best harness these transformative technologies — from the more mainstream (cloud computing, CRM/ERP solutions, and your online presence), to the more vanguard (cognitive computing, neural networks, and deep learning) — accounting firms have recognized the value in working with an outsourced IT company like JNT TEK. Without the infrastructure necessary to handle these emergent technologies, it’s difficult to implement them yourself; doubly so if you’re trying to stay on top of their ever-evolving best practices as well.
And that’s where we come in. JNT TEK can not only help firms like yours understand exactly what’s needed to keep up with the latest tech; we can help you develop and execute your own strategy so that you can take full advantage of the acct → tech revolution. Technology is providing you with the means to move your accounting business forward. We’re here to help you leverage it.
Contact JNT TEK today to find out how you can use the newest technologies to stay on the forefront of the accounting industry.