Like many other fields, accounting depends on technology to drive its competitive advantage. Digital advancements, including specialized software, have increased the accuracy and speed of bookkeeping and related tasks. This frees accountants to focus on strategy and innovation that add value for their companies or clients. As experts look at what’s ahead for 2022 and beyond, many see cloud computing, automation and other technological developments as the vehicles that are driving the future of accounting.
Anyone looking to embrace their potential as an accounting professional must first pursue the proper education. A graduate program such as a Master of Accountancy can help professionals stay current on the latest accounting trends while developing new skills on a flexible schedule.
Accounting Industry Trends
Among current accounting industry trends to watch, three things stand out: the cloud, automation and blockchain technology.
1. The Power of the Cloud
Cloud-based accounting software works much like cloud-based storage — rather than residing on a hard drive, files are stored on a server connected to the internet. Files are accessible at any time to multiple members of a firm or to accountants and their clients. They can also be accessed from multiple platforms, devices and web browsers through cloud software or SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications such as Google Apps, Dropbox or Salesforce.
The data platform Analytics Insight reports that cloud computing may yield several advantages for the accounting industry, such as:
- Improved cybersecurity through cloud storage and regular security verification through system updates
- Increased collaboration and delegation between team members through online sharing and centralized programs
2. The Speed of Automation
Automation of routine accounting processes has become the norm, but experts see the process intensifying. Automated accounting is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, largely because of the increasing presence of fintech (financial technology), according to Forbes.
Automated tools allow for the speedy and accurate compilation of large volumes of data while helping eliminate human error. However, human presence is still needed in this process. Says Forbes Technology Council member Nicholas Pasquarosa: “Automated platforms rely on whatever data comes into them. The first level of a ‘human touch’ is your team actively fulfilling their part of the process — accurate data in, accurate data out.”
With the increasing proliferation and accuracy of automation, accountants can apply their financial expertise in collaboration with technology innovations to achieve highly productive results.
3. The Blockchain Revolution
Blockchain is an accounting trend that will help significantly improve productivity and accuracy, a .
“Due to distributed ledger technology, blockchain technology eliminates the need for entering accounting information into multiple databases and potentially removes the need for auditors to reconcile disparate ledgers,” according to IFAC. “This could save substantial amounts of time and the risk of human error may be considerably reduced.”
While finance professionals will still be needed to audit and assess some transactions, IFAC notes that “the ability to trust that both parties are recording the same base transaction information and the real-time availability of this accounting data offers immense benefits for the efficiency with which accounting data can be reconciled and analyzed.”
As blockchain becomes more widely accepted, accountants may be able to focus more on analysis, insights, soft skills and advisory roles.
4. The Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
With each passing year, more accounting tasks are completed by artificial intelligence (AI) programs. By applying AI, a greater volume of work can be accomplished nearly immediately, streamlining workflow and minimizing the chance for human error in important calculations.
Finance leaders can benefit from AI by allotting menial and time-consuming tasks to AI functions, according to Forbes, allowing their employees to focus on tasks that involve creativity, analysis and critical thinking. This can increase productivity and employee satisfaction.
The use of AI is not intended to be a complete replacement for human involvement, nor is it effective for making critical strategic decisions. Instead, AI is a powerful tool capable of expediting analysis and allowing humans to make more informed decisions.
5. Increased Focus on Data Analytics
The increased focus on data analytics is an accounting trend essential to strategic progress. Accountants can use analytical skills to “make sense of the massive quantities of financial information available to evaluate business performance,” according to Accounting Today, “(and) identify and manage risk and analyze customer behavior to anticipate market trends more efficiently and accurately than ever before.”
With data analytics, more actionable plans can be formed more quickly, as technology helps ease administrative and accounting tasks. This frees employees to improve performance in auditing, risk management, tax accounting and consulting.
A strong understanding of data management has allowed some more experienced accountants to evolve their careers into advisory positions, so their knowledge and influence can serve their peers and clients more deeply.
Improve Your Competitive Edge in Accounting
No matter your goals or ambitions in the field of accounting, you should prioritize a meaningful education designed to accelerate your professional growth. A successful accountancy career can depend on staying current with the latest advancements in the field.
University of North Dakota’s online Master of Accountancy program immerses students in a curriculum that develops useful and marketable skills in the field.
Program courses include Accounting Systems, Taxation of Businesses, Seminar in Accounting Issues and other classes intended to advance well-rounded professional development.
Explore UND’s curriculum and become a professional at the forefront of accounting trends.