Accountancy sector adding up new tech benefits

Accounting firms are pushing ahead with game changing tech innovations following decades in the digital slow lane, a new report has shown.

 

The movement towards more technology investment for accountants is being driven by the need for efficiency, streamlined workflows and added value to their business, according to the latest survey from accounting technology provider LeaseQuery.

 

LeaseQuery’s Annual Accountants Survey: Top Challenges & Tech Wishlist polled 237 accounting professionals across public, private, non-profit and government organizations on their technology maturity, wishlist and areas for growth. When asked about accountants’ top priorities, improved accuracy and compliance was the top choice, followed by lower costs and faster delivery. It’s no coincidence that technology is built to improve all of these pain points.

 

“Automation has become the accountant’s best friend,” says Sarah O’Sullivan, Director of Product Accounting at LeaseQuery. “Accountants are facing mounting pressure to deliver more accurate results in less time, and they are increasingly turning to technology to help scale their work. This, in turn, drives high expectations for ROI for this technology.”

 

Accountants, she added, have a long automation wishlist, with data entry, reconciliation and analysis at the top. Automation eliminates the need for manual tasks, from data entry to time tracking, enabling accountants to devote more time to higher-value work. As accountants’ roles become more analytical, automation is a critical strategy to meeting those needs.

 

While fewer than a majority of the responding accountants included billing and time tracking on their automation wishlist, 80% indicated that they currently use technology to support expenses and accounts payable, and 77% noted they already use technology for billing and accounts receivable tasks.

“The maturity of accounting technology is clearly progressing,” said Jennifer Booth, VP of Accounting with the vendor, “However, massive opportunities to gain efficiencies remain. For instance, one of the first measures of technology maturity is cloud adoption, and only 38% are fully transferred to working in the cloud at this point.”

 

Accountants are investing more resources and attention to battle emerging and persistent cybersecurity threats, LeaseQuery’s survey shows. The accounting industry continues to take security seriously, with 40% saying they plan to invest more in cybersecurity protections in the year ahead. The cloud is generally regarded as the safest option for data storage, which ties back to the need for accountants – both from industry-specific organizations and accounting firms – to migrate their data, which is the first critical step in the digital transformation journey.

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

 

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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