Automation is a word that inspires both fear and hope in accountants. The rapid evolution of technology over the last couple of decades has led many in the profession to wonder whether humans have a future in accounting at all.
However, automation still offers more promise than danger for accountants who know how to use it. As 2023 unfolds, automation will again be top of mind for accountants. But instead of being disruptive in a negative sense, new technologies will present firms with an opportunity to improve operations, boost client service, and attract and retain employees.
Prediction 1: Yes
Automation, of course, is nothing new in the accounting profession. Online tax applications have existed for decades and haven’t done much to derail growth for most firms. Accountants are valuable because they provide a specialized service and because they tackle tasks most people don’t want to undertake. None of that will change in 2023—or likely for many years to come.
Certain aspects of what accounting firms do are susceptible to disruption from automation. But the good news is that the disruption can be positive. Artificial intelligence still can’t analyze situations, make decisions and give advice to clients based on experience the way a human accountant can. It likely won’t be able to for some time, if ever. (And even if it could, clients would rather deal with humans.)
What firms need to do is target repetitive processes for automation and use it to their advantage. Lots of repetitive tasks take more time than they should, and firms are better off automating those tasks. If your firm hasn’t automated these processes yet, think about how much time you spend on expense management, document management, bank reconciliation and payroll.
Having machines do those repetitive tasks helps you run your firm more efficiently. The prediction here isn’t so much that firms will continue to automate in 2023. That much is obvious. The forecast is that firms that don’t automate could fall so far behind those that do that they won’t be able to catch up. The year 2023, then, could be one in which firms automate or die—or, at least, suffer.
Prediction 2: Accounting Professionals Won’t Lose Jobs to Automation
There are strong signs that the Great Resignation is ending or already over, which is good news for firm owners who have constant issues with finding and retaining staff. A more pressing question now is whether, be it in the short term or long, automation will move the labor situation in the other direction and put accountants out of work.
After all, many industries have automated over the last few decades with the goal of reducing headcount. Technology vendors have claimed for years that their applications can enable companies to produce at increased capacity with fewer people.
But the accounting profession isn’t just any profession. It’s a specialized field that exists because of the experts who populate it. Automation, then, isn’t a threat to accountants’ jobs. If anything, it’s a liberator. Automation does not replace staff in accounting. That’s not what it’s designed to do.
In fact, automating processes enables employees to have more control over their work, not less. By turning repetitive tasks into machine work, automation lets accountants focus on what they want to do and what they do best—serving clients.
The prediction here, then, is that firms that automate in 2023 will have an easier time retaining employees, who will be able to do the work they want to do rather than get stuck doing dull, repetitive work. And having automation in place will help firms recruit, too. Accounting jobs won’t decrease due to automation. They might even increase.
Prediction 3: The Blockchain Will Evolve Toward Faster Payments for Accountants
The cryptocurrency world is kind of a mess right now. But it’s important not to confuse crypto with the technology behind it: the blockchain. There are far more applications for the blockchain than just storing digital coins.
One of them could soon provide a huge benefit for accounting firms. An example of how it works comes from agriculture, oddly enough. When a farmer harvests a head of lettuce, a trucker picks it up and takes it to a cooling plant. With the agricultural blockchain, the farmer gets paid as soon as the trucker arrives at the farm. The trucker gets paid as soon as the truck arrives at the distribution center. There’s no waiting for the end of the process—for the lettuce to reach a store—for everybody along the way to get paid. All parties receive money as soon as their jobs are done.
What will that mean for accountants as blockchain technology evolves? With smart contracts, your firm would be able to receive payment immediately after completing work and satisfactory acceptance by clients. While smart contracts of that kind aren’t yet available for accounting firms, the blockchain is evolving in that direction and will continue to in 2023.
Services such as CPACharge or QuickFee that don’t use the blockchain or smart contracts, but do provide a similar service, are available for firms now. Those applications, which integrate into practice management systems, bill clients immediately after a firm completes work and put the money into the firm’s bank account. In 2023, expect the blockchain to continue to develop toward offering firms options for faster payment. For now, firms can take advantage of payment services.
Accounting Works Best in the Cloud
One thing that won’t change in 2023 is that the cloud will remain the most reliable and safest way for your firm to access its applications, secure your IT infrastructure or outsource your IT processes altogether.
Whether you’re looking for secure QuickBooks® Desktop that’s available anytime, anywhere, or you want to have experts run a managed IT service so you don’t have to worry about technology, Right Networks has a service for your firm.
And remember, Right Networks also offers enterprise-level security for your devices, as well as training for employees that will enable them to detect and avoid cyberattacks. No matter what happens in accounting in 2023, it will happen in the cloud.
Are you ready for the future of accounting in the cloud? Get ready with Right Networks today.