Before we begin, let’s clear up the idea of automation. Automation is the use of software for manual or repetitive tasks, allowing staff to focus their efforts elsewhere. So relax – it doesn’t involve robots taking over the world (yet!).
Researchers say that by 2033, up to 95% of accounting work will be automated. ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ and now, with 21st century modern technology, we’re likely to see a similar relationship between software and the financial services industry. (We used to need an accountant as part of our office staff who was responsible for generating invoices and payslips. Now there are countless applications which will do the job for you.)
Can you remember your maths teacher stressing the importance of learning how do long division in your head because ‘you won’t be able to carry a calculator in your pocket for your whole life’.
Now we smugly pull out our mobile and open the calculator app. We used to have to manually calculate taxes and produce profit & loss accounts; such tasks can now easily be automated.
Ensuring that all monetary matters meet compliance reporting standards is another area that is likely to become much more automated in the near future.
Programs will not be able to completely take over from the role of the accountant, of course. The profession will adapt along with the improvement of technology. The job of accountants will no longer rest on solely analysing numbers but will increasingly have to include the ability to communicate well, in addition to harnessing intuition and developing true leadership skills.
And being able to handle change is not something we are all born with, of course. Candidates need to educate themselves about change even though they might not be the ones pushing the changes through.
The future of accounting will be one of automatically linking diverse sources of information from different departments and processing it so that makes sense, presenting the results so that companies can increase their profit margins, elevate staff output and generally advance business performance.
Further: beyond traditional measures of business performance, new definitions of business output aren’t based only on profit. They also include how your enterprise affects a community, the economy and its impact on the environment.
Change is ahead!
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