Five accounting tech trends for 2020

Digital disruption creates potential for new strategic opportunities in business. Find out how new and emerging tech could spark innovation, drive change and impact your work in the new year.

The year ahead is bringing a fresh crop of tech trends with it. Opportunities abound for CPAs who are ready to adapt, embrace change and become confident data navigators.

In fact, embracing change and being aware of what’s on the horizon can actually help you future-proof your career. New and emerging tech in accounting isn’t a threat; it’s a digital toolkit that can empower your work and be used to reimagine what’s possible for the entire industry in the name of speed, accuracy and service quality. There’s tremendous value in building up your role as a trusted business advisor that can turn data into actionable insights.

Nick Chandi, CEO of PayPie, agrees. “Technology will give us access to better data, but accountants are the ones who’ll have to apply this information to the real world to provide crucial business insights and intelligence.”

With that in mind, here are some of the top tech trends you can expect to see more of in 2020:

THE BLOCKCHAIN BOOM

It’s going to be a banner year for blockchain, which has been increasing in popularity over the last few years. Facebook even plans to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. We will see continued investment in blockchain technology in 2020 that starts to yield real-world results beyond the big players as it becomes more practical, scaleable and integrated into the operational structure of smaller firms and traditional global corporations alike.

The implications of this shift are transformative, since greater application will extend the benefits of blockchain – increased accountability and tracking in supply chains, better encryption for data privacy, procedural changes to identify anomalies in auditing, and seamless authentication for digital documents – to more users than ever before.

SKYROCKETING CLOUD SOLUTIONS

Cloud-based accounting software is already prominent right now, but in 2020 we’ll see an uptick in industry-wide adoption as it becomes ubiquitous for CPAs. Being able to store and access your data from anywhere is the price of admission to do business in a digital-first world. Cloud computing options for CPAs can reduce administrative burdens with built-in features and tools to optimize expense claims, purchase orders, payroll, multi-currency transactions and more.

Going digital means less paperwork, which is great, but as an added perk it translates into greater service quality as well. More sophisticated cloud-based solutions reduce IT maintenance costs by centralizing the amount of subscriptions you need to connect with clients or successfully collaborate and exchange information with your team – a win for everyone.

EXTENDED REALITY (XR) GOES MAINSTREAM

IT research firm Gartner predicts that 2020 will be the year we see up to 70 per cent of enterprises begin to experiment with immersive technologies for consumer and business purposes, while a more modest 25 per cent will have them deployed in production.

Human augmentation has the potential to fuel incredible optimization initiatives with a lot practical potential for accountants. Look out for emerging technology in XR to facilitate the next level of virtual and augmented reality, like overlaying digital objects into the real world using smartphone screens, as well as more accessible price points for headsets that’ll make you feel like you’re stepping into another world.

In a commercial context, XR holds a lot of potential that goes beyond entertainment to include elements of gamification for enhanced training and simulation scenarios. Think collaborating with global teams in lifelike virtual environments or fresh, real-time scenarios for skills development.

NEW AI HORIZONS AND COMPUTER VISION

In the new year, companies will continue to explore how AI can streamline business operations. The way we process data will evolve further in accounting, too, as advanced analytics become critical to decision making that anticipates the future. 2020 is going to bring increased opportunities for people to work alongside AI applications that are tailored to specialized tasks that go beyond traditional number crunching to enhance customer experience and create more efficiencies.

As we see a move to higher amounts of automation that reduce labor-intensive manual practices, you will be able to take on more complex, strategic and advisory tasks – a trend which will likely lead to new jobs and evolving responsibilities for CPAs.

Additionally, computer vision, a sub-section of AI that allows machines to “see” and make decisions about visual input, will gain traction across different industries. The most obvious use of this technology may be in self-driving cars, but computer vision will also impact the accounting and finance world. In our realm, computer vision is facilitating innovation by powering everything from simple improvements like able to automatically and accurately extract information from documents, to more fine-tuned leaps, like the precise analysis of satellite images for insurance and investment strategies.

HIGHER STAKES IN CYBERSECURITY

As the digital world only grows more complicated and globalized, the value of cybersecurity is on the rise. Being safe online isn’t as simple as a firewall anymore; cybersecurity is a table-stakes business issue. You can expect to see many firms up the ante on cybersecurity in 2020. Factors influencing this development include increased work with third-party vendors; higher volumes of cross-border data exchange and rapid growth in mobile tech. So it’s worth taking the steps proactively to protect your company’s data and invest in a robust cybersecurity framework.

This also has the benefit of demonstrating your skills as an adaptive accountant with true foresight. Your role is continually changing – and while being a CPA still requires strong mathematical expertise, the profession now demands more from you as a tech-savvy leader.
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Learn more about what the future holds for CPAs and how to find the best-fit tech solutions for your business at the National Technology Forum in Toronto from May 25-26, 2020.
Come see what’s new for accounting tech in a dynamic, hands-on environment. Earn up to 18 CPD hours and customize your experience with a mix of high-profile keynotes, expert-led roundtables, innovative workshops and more.