Accountants are finding technology innovations are becoming more and more intertwined in their day-to-day work. And now, in some cases, it's legally required.
Ahead of the Accounting Business Expo, we're looking at the three big trends impacting the accounting profession in 2018: automation, data security & blockchain.
For accountants looking to improve their processes, automation quickly forms part of the discussion.
While many of the large firms are using big data to help implement automation, smaller firms are targeting more specific deployments first. Many are looking to chat bots.
Chat bots are often thought as being for the consumer market, an encounter you may find when booking a flight or buying a new phone, but they can also be for business clients. Some cloud-based accounting software packages have started to include chat bots in the last few years. These chat bots can be useful for new, non-professional staff, and for basic client interaction.
For accountants and business advisers, these chat bots can offer real value. They allow clients to have fast, uncomplicated access to basic data and information. At the same time, they free up accountants to focus on more complex matters that require their expertise.
Data breach notifications are now required
A broad data security regulation is now in force for Australian businesses, the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme.
The NDB scheme isn't just about cyber-attack breaches, if personal or financial information is accessed inappropriately at all, a breach may have occurred. Perhaps the most significant development from the new scheme is that businesses need to be proactive in how they store and control access to personal and financial information.
The new regulations under the NDB scheme are serious, and accountants at firms of all sizes should become educated about its requirements. We recommend starting with our quick start guide to the NDB scheme.
Blockchain will disrupt, but its impact is not clear
You may be familiar with the term blockchain already but if not, it is the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. But blockchain technology can be applied much further.
Blockchain is essentially a shared ledger that is verified by authentication across its various copies. Importantly, blockchain entries cannot be altered once they are accepted.
Ben Scull, Managing Director at Thomson Reuters ANZ, warns accountants that the technology could radically change the profession.
"Blockchain will disrupt the accounting industry by making certain practices and even some professional services obsolete."
Scull points to way blockchain finalise and verify transactions as key reasons why the technology may fundamentally change the way ledgers are maintained and auditing more broadly.
We've previously discussed blockchain and its potential impact on the legal industry, but most of the definitions and potential outcomes are similar for the accounting profession. See more about blockchain here.
Sentrian will be attending this year's Accounting Business Expo in Sydney on March 21-22.
Come along to Stand B37 to have a chat with Rob, Sophia and Ben.