The annual Digital CPA Conference is known for featuring visionary thinkers who challenge us to think deeply about the ways technology can transform accounting business models and practice management.
The 2019 conference did not disappoint. In fact, we came away convinced that there are more technology innovations hitting the industry today than ever before. The sheer pace of change is accelerating, adding further to the sense of exhilaration, excitement, and anxiety that come with it. Buckle your seat belts, and pay attention to these trends in 2020:
- Data-driven insights are changing audit. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can analyze a client’s unstructured data, identify specific document types, learning from the data and offering insights. Use of AI is demonstrating the ability to provide better, more effective audit evidence.
- Cloud technology continues to advance CAS. Client accounting services increasingly utilize integrated cloud applications in accounting, billing, tax, and workflow management. Integration allows firms to access up-to-the-minute data and provide higher-value advisory services to clients, working seamlessly as a part of the client company’s operations.
- Cryptocurrency gains traction. Blockchain technology and crypto currency (digital currency that rests on Blockchain), are becoming embedded in industry practices. For the first time this year, for example, the IRS added a question about financial interests in virtual currency to the Form 1040 Schedule 1. The move to a financial system with a significant use of blockchain offers opportunities for accounting firms. The technology is in its infancy, and firms have the opportunity to contribute to standards and practices in blockchain-based solutions and services.
- Cybersecurity: continued threats and opportunity, too. For CPA firms, a data breach affecting sensitive client data can unleash legal and reputational damage, so keeping your business data and applications safe and secure from ransomware attacks is a top priority. Once your firm has its security infrastructure in order, consider extending that knowledge and expertise to clients in the form of cybersecurity advisory services.
Adapt and Grow
Accounting firm leaders who recognize this unparalleled technology change will be better positioned to ride the wave and harness technology to drive growth and efficiency. We can’t slow the rate of change, or control the variety and type of technology changes coming our way. But we can change our own attitudes and skills:
- Recognize and accept that change is a constant, and be open and willing to consider changes in firm operations, workflow, and staffing.
- Build a knowledge base on cloud technology, AI, automation, and blockchain, and how they may impact the industry. Case studies on successful tech adoptions by leading firms might offer options for your own firm.
- Surround yourself with tech enthusiasts; innovative ideas and enthusiasm are infectious. A tech-forward culture will be a real asset to any firm seeking to implement technology changes.