A lot of the talk about new technology is rooted in fear. It’s pretty alarming when you read the warnings about how artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT could lead to the extinction of the human race. It’s even more concerning to discover that the warning comes from the people who created ChatGPT. Still, that doesn’t mean new accounting firm technology is out to destroy us all.
In fact, your firm might be able to get some use out of AI and other evolving technologies. The best thing you can do for your firm is learn how to make AI work for you rather than fearing and avoiding it. The same goes for other new areas of accounting firm technology that might not seem as scary as ChatGPT…but might not be familiar, either. Get to know them, and you’ll soon realize why they can be wise investments.
Accounting firm technology every firm should explore
From the familiar—but possibly misunderstood—to the brand new, accounting firm technology can drive benefits. Consider these tech options and learn what they can do for you:
If this one seems kind of obvious, it should be by now. The cloud is nothing new, but its power and benefits are constantly growing. When you run critical business and tax applications in the cloud, you guarantee secure data access for clients and employees.
For example, you and your employees can access QuickBooks® Desktop and many more applications at any time and from anywhere. Your cloud provider takes care of all maintenance and updates for you, and also handles security with a team of seasoned professionals. The right cloud provider delivers enterprise-class services and teams that companies or local integrators cannot come even close to providing. All you have to do is run your firm.
But there’s more to the cloud than secure access from anywhere. You can establish a secure online environment for virtually all of your collaboration with clients. That means getting rid of email attachments and moving everything into a secure area where you can quickly and easily share updated files. Issues with version control disappear.
The cloud can also revolutionize how you find and hire employees. Running your firm in the cloud streamlines recruiting and hiring processes. It makes your firm more attractive to younger candidates who already live their lives online. And it lets you hire people who can work remotely from anywhere. In a tight labor market for accountants, the cloud offers your firm a massive advantage.
There’s a lot more to AI than just ChatGPT, although your firm can use the now famous chatbot as an accounting firm technology. For instance, ChatGPT will write a crisp, customizable pitch letter to a prospective client or a welcome letter to a new client. You don’t have to spend time writing or even typing. ChatGPT can also help you explain difficult accounting concepts to clients in a language they’ll understand.
There’s more to AI than just cranking out quick content. While many cybersecurity protections can’t see threats coming, emerging AI capabilities can take cyberdefenses to a new level. The technology is evolving to detect security irregularities before a breach occurs. It’s also moving toward being able to predict potential future data leaks and respond in real-time to data breaches. Some of this functionality is still in a formative stage, but it does offer some current benefits and is worth investigating.
AI can also help with financial reporting for forecasting. New technologies provide real-time insights into how your firm is performing and how clients’ businesses are doing. With real-time insights and the ability to pick up on and predict trends, you’ll be able to forecast metrics more accurately than ever before.
Of course, you need to be careful using AI, not because it will destroy humanity but because it is prone to errors. You need to verify everything you get back from ChatGPT. The bot has completely fabricated facts in the past. Plus, you should never enter client data or any sort of proprietary information into ChatGPT. Consider anything you enter into a ChatGPT query to be openly available on the internet because it basically is.
Document management, workflow and backup
You’re in charge of a lot of critical data. You need to know where it is and how to find it at all times, especially if a client asks for it. Document management can deliver exactly what you need. When you run document management apps in the cloud, you provide a secure environment for storing, organizing and sharing client data from anywhere and at any time.
There’s more to document management than storage and organization, although those are significant benefits. A workflow tool tied into a document management app enables you to establish repeatable workflows inside your firm. You can eliminate confusion as to who handles what by laying out a plan for every process you have. Finalized documents, backed up and easily accessible, end up with the right people. Consistent, automated workflows lead to greater efficiency and more satisfied employees—as well as enhanced security.
And then there’s backup. Document management adds an extra layer of protection against data loss. Security breaches aren’t the only threat to your clients’ data. Natural disasters and other unexpected events can lead to lost data. You need your clients’ data to be safe and easy to find, no matter what. Document management running in the cloud enables easier backup and recovery. You have the information you need whenever you need it—rain, shine or otherwise.
Accounting firm technology lets your firm embrace the future
Firms that want to run more efficiently, improve client service and enhance recruiting need to know how to use technology to their advantage. Far from being scary, new and not-so-new technology can transform your firm and set you up for success in the future.
Accounting firm technology just works better in the cloud. Move to the cloud today.