How Small Firms Can Keep Up with Technology
The CPA profession is facing extraordinary change. How can solo and small-firm practitioners stay abreast of the swiftly developing technologies that are dramatically changing our daily routines? Understanding, let alone mastering, new technology can be daunting. Let’s take a look at how CPAs can stay on top of changes in the following areas:
- General technology changes and trends
- Accounting-firm-specific technology changes
- Individual technology issues driving change within accounting and finance
Keeping Current with General Technology Trends
Some of the information resources CPAs already subscribe to have excellent content for staying well-informed on general technology trends. Visit the “Tech” tab of the online edition of the Wall Street Journal and select “The Future of Everything” section. Here you will find articles related to the world of technology listed chronologically. If you learn more effectively by listening or viewing, as opposed to the written word, the Tech section also includes an extensive library of both podcasts and videos devoted to current technology issues. Likewise, the New York Times has an excellent online Technology section; The Economist magazine publishes an extensive Technology Quarterly supplement themed with in-depth articles devoted to trending technology issues; and a relatively new online publication, The Verge, is devoted to technology reviews, science and digital entertainment.
While these general resources will not focus specifically on the accounting industry, knowledge of emerging trends and technologies will provide you with extensive background and help you to talk the talk with clients, peers, subordinates, bosses, friends and family.
Technology Specific to Accounting Firms
When trying to maintain a grasp on how technology is specifically affecting the accounting industry, there are several resources which offer insight:
One of the most prolific changes in small-business accounting is the introduction of electronic feeds for downloading transaction activity and populating clients’ accounting systems with minimal human interaction. Proper initial setup and mapping allows CPAs to focus on reconciliation, reporting and advisory services. These new technologies can significantly reduce the time spent accumulating, reclassifying and posting individual transaction activity. If you are seeking to establish a relationship with a software vendor or services company to assist you with enabling these types of programs within your firm, you may want to look at:
If you are interested in understanding more about these cloud/internet-based accounting systems and how they compare with one another, this article provides just such insight.
Individual Technology Issues within Accounting and Finance
Maybe your immediate interest does not lie with technology in general or even specific software for CPAs but instead with core technologies which are rapidly changing the way business is conducted. Though not exhaustive, the following technologies are currently at the forefront in changing the very essence of business and the free enterprise system:
- Migration to the cloud/internet applications
- Data analytics
- Electronic commerce and social media
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- Artificial intelligence and deep machine learning
By many accounts, the future for CPAs lies in specialization and business process refinement. Beyond the five current specialty credentials (ABV, CFF, CITP, PFS and CEIV), at last count the AICPA is now offering 15 unique certificate programs, many of which are rooted in the core technologies listed above. If you determine your career path can be improved with this specialized knowledge or your current situation demands that a more in-depth understanding of these primary and emerging technologies is required to adequately serve your clients, a visit to explore the content, objectives and benefits provided by these certificate programs may be worth pursuing.