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3 Trends Driving Changes in Accounting

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3 Trends Driving Changes in Accounting

Those in favor of change have reached a critical mass

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
BY Morten Brogger, for Accounting Today

The accounting sector has arguably been slow to adopt new technology, eschewing new, and often unproven, technology for older, tried and true tools. However, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’”.
With the changes to the audit threshold among other things, accounting firms are finding themselves reassessing and looking to expand their client services in order to continue growing their businesses. A big part of achieving this is improving efficiency. It’s becoming harder to ignore the potential gains in efficiency and revenue that can be achieved with the right technology. As a result, those in favor of change have reached a critical mass. The following are the top technologies enabling this change:

The Cloud
Once feared, the maturity of the cloud has enabled even the most regulated industries to embrace the productivity and efficiency benefits of the cloud. In a recent study we found that not only were company-mandated tools used by fewer than half of respondents, they were regularly being circumvented in ways that undermine security and productivity, which in the end costs firms—not only in terms of time wasted, but in billable time lost.

This is not a small concern. Security breaches have a long tail effect on consumer confidence. Take the Target hack of 2013. Nearly three years later, this breach is still making headlines. Though they have done a great job remediating the event, in some ways they’ll always be associated with one of the largest breaches in history, to date.

In most breaches, we learn afterwards that the company either skimped on security or ignored warnings. With Target the hackers gained access through a third-party vendor. This is why it’s of utmost importance to choose partners who value security as much as you do.

The cloud can simplify workflows, increase client engagement and make it easier to access experts— something that is necessary for demonstrating proficiency and service breadth when pursuing new business. With the progress made in securing the cloud, there is no reason not to take advantage of all that it has to offer.

Enterprise mobility has untethered employees, allowing them to work how they want, when they want and where they want. By increasing employee satisfaction and productivity, a sound mobile strategy improves a firm’s competitiveness and potential for business growth.

According to a recent Harris Poll, 90 percent of IT decision makers view enterprise mobility as critical to customer engagement, competitiveness, and operational productivity. Further, 87 percent reported enterprise mobility as critical to their company’s profitability.

Like the cloud, end users are largely responsible for mobile adoption in accountancy firms. Firms have taken an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to enterprise mobility, choosing to enable and control it rather than attempt to prevent it. Despite this (or maybe because of it) firms with a mobile strategy can attract better talent and ultimately win and retain more business.

By providing employees with the tools they want, firms have not only increased productivity, they’ve prevented Shadow IT and given themselves more control in the long run.

Big Data
Everyone talks about big data. It may be one of the most overused terms today. However there is a good reason for this. Today 90 percent of businesses have at least a “moderate” investment in analytics technologies, talent, infrastructure and processes, with the majority of executives citing big data as critical for achieving competitive advantage.

In fact, today no industry is untouched by big data with organizations using it to innovate, compete and capture value to ultimately outperform peers. McKinsey found that knowledge workers spend 28 percent of the workweek managing email, with nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help. In our latest research of professional services firms, we found that searching for documents costs firms nearly $4,000 in lost productivity per employee each month.

It probably doesn’t take market research to know that time wasted leads to lost revenue. In a time of increasing competition, improving productivity and efficiency are key not only to preventing loss, but to ensuring growth. Big data will play a big role in this.

It’s a time of big change in the accounting industry. Only time will tell what the next three to five years will look like, but it’s clear that technology will play a major part.
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