The image of accountancy hasn’t changed that much over the years. For me, the very mention of it conjures up a candlelit picture of Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge scratching away at parchment journals with feathery quills.
Now, I don’t mean to be rude, accountants are wonderful people. They run our payrolls and sort out our expenses, pay our bills and process our invoices, and ensure that businesses have the cash to keep going. It’s very important stuff. So it might be that many of us just don’t care to think about it too much. After all, the prospect of tackling a tax return form is less appealing than a visit to the dentist, and understanding VAT needs the combined intellect of a brain surgeon and a rocket scientist.
So when we think about automation, it’s all about robotics and manufacturing right? Considering its effect on accountancy isn’t something that immediately springs to mind, and old Ebenezer’s never going to let Bob have an iPad is he? Well according to Ed Molyneux, things have moved on. ‘Siri - Do My Tax Return’ is becoming a reality! It’s a brilliant reminder of how automation, advanced IT and ‘big data’ can and will affect all areas of business.
The Accountant’s Dead, Long Live The Accountant.
If you think all of this will represent a challenge to your book-keeper or accountant, you would be right.
Soon, technology will be at the point of being able to collect, categorise, process, submit, revise and advise on your business’ financial affairs.
While business owners will gain from efficiency, many of the bread-and-butter functions of a typical small business accountant are going to quickly become commoditised.
The key to survival for accounting professionals will be to move up the value chain. To retain relevance and customers, they will need to provide higher-value services, to serve as a front-footed, pro-active business strategy consultant to businesses for who reconciliation and receipts have become low-hanging fruit.