Accountants as fluent speakers of the language of business will not achieve much nowadays if they fail to come to terms with technology which has become pervasive in the areas of business and finance.
Business technology management in today’s business world is a fundamental success factor in managing businesses for optimal results. You will be restricted to what you can achieve as a business owner if you fail to embrace technology.
Accountants use technology as business enabler and to create efficiency in business processes. This is against the initial belief that computers will cost many accountants their jobs. I still remember an interesting academic argument that we had while I was studying for my first degree in accounting.
In that debate, some members of the class believed that technology (computers) will make many accountants redundant while some firmly believe that accountants will use technology to make the business environment more efficient and vibrant.
Well, some years down the line, it has become evident that the latter group of students that stood their ground and defended their opinion that technology is a blessing to the accounting community were right after all. Below are some ways that accountants sue technology to make businesses more prosperous and profitable.
How do accountants use technology to achieve results in business?
To prepare financial statements: no accountant in this modern day and time still uses manual ledger to prepare financial statement. At the very least, basic simple spreadsheet is used to keep and maintain books of accounts and then extract the financial statement from it. Technology has made the process of preparing financial statement as simple as inputting data and then clicking a single button. ERP SAP system for example will automatically generate accounting report by the click of few buttons.
To give financial advice: many accountants now deliver financial services and advice to their clients over the internet. The explosion in the number of accounting and financial Apps that are at the disposal of people even makes this medium of delivering financial and accounting services even more attractive.
To give access to their clients: accountants use the internet and technology to give clients easy access to their information on demand. Take cloud accounting services as an example of where accountants let their clients remotely use accounting software that they could not have otherwise afforded to buy.
For forensic analysis: accountants that specialise in the investigative arm of accounting use technology for the purpose of preparing forensic accounting information. This role of accountants is very important in the overall judicial system as accountants use technology to prepare financial information that will be admissible in the court of law.
Filing financial details with the authorities: many regulatory authorities are now requiring companies to file their annual reports in formats that are readable by machines without the intervention of humans. This move has given rise to the use of XBRL in filing financial details.
To manage clients relationship: clients are constantly demanding more from their accountants on a daily basis to the extent that it is almost impossible for the accountant to respond to the demands of these clients without leveraging on the automotive power of computer and IT. Accountants for example can use features in Xerox (online accounting software) to grant remote access to their clients. The use of computer in this manner by an accountant goes a long way in improving the customer satisfaction thereby taking the accountant-client relationship to a higher level.
For information processing: the baseline use of technology by accountants is to process raw data into information that is readily available for use by decision makers. Accounting software has features that lets an accountant process large amount of information quickly and reduces the number of errors made.
For marketing and socialization purposes: accountant use social media which is based on technology to socialise, network and connect to other accounting professionals. Accounting forums for example serve as a place where both accountants and aspiring accountants share knowledge on an informal basis. If you are an accountpreneur, you have to use technology to market your accounting services.
Major security concern of use of technology in accounting
The major security concern that relates to how accountants use technology is in the area of keeping the information of their clients’ safe and confidential at all times. Securing accounting information system has been posing some challenges and will continue to do so.
Many small to medium accounting firms have lost their competitive advantage because they unintentionally disclosed confidential details of their clients. Also, accountants that use technology face the challenge of combatting tricks that are constantly devised by hackers to bring down their system. I encourage anyone that is responsible for managing accounting information to adopt ISACA’s COBIT5 for accounting information security.
Conclusively, accountants have fully embraced technology in their day to day activities as the importance of accounting will be undermined if accountants fail to fully tap into the potential of information technology. In hindsight, we can see that the initial fear that computer and technology will cost accountants their jobs was uncalled for as computers and technologies has created even more accounting and finance roles in our modern day business environment.