UK accountants have predicted that artificial intelligence, cloud computing and mobile technology will be the biggest disruptors of accounting software in the next five years.
The last few years have been filled with headlines and claims about the changing nature of accounting technology and the shift towards digital first reporting.
In the new survey which we commissioned as part of our UNDERSTANDING TECHNOLOGY ATTITUDES WITHIN UK FINANCE PROFESSIONALS report, 1,000 accounting and internal finance workers gave their predictions for how they see the industry moving forward, and anticipating which technologies will have the biggest impact on their day-to-day jobs.
The accounting technology market has taken off in the last few years, with the start of the new decade expecting to bring further increases in investment in software and systems that will streamline accounting processes, but also help with compliance.
By 2026 it is expected that the global accounting software market will be worth roughly $11.8bn.
Many big firms are already taking steps to ensure their staff are prepared for the next wave of accounting technology. PwC for instance last year announced a commitment of £30m in annual funding to improve staff skills and knowledge of technology and software.
With AI, cloud and mobile making up the top three technologies, 25% of accountants believe Business Intelligence tools are going to become more important, 23% cited big data and advanced analytics and 21% predicted an increase in the use of Business Process Management software.
However, while accountants and in-house finance teams become more clear in which technologies they expect to see more of, fewer are confident that they will be able to get the most out of the technology when it does arrive.
For example, more than 10% of accountants admit to having no idea what benefits AI will have to the way they work, with nearly one in five (18%) say they have no knowledge of how Intelligent Process Automation works despite predictions it will be a major part of accounting in the next five years.
Another 16% claim to not understand how Big Data Analytics will play a part in their daily jobs in the future.
No matter what accounting technology comes to the forefront in the next few years, it is clear that accounting firms and internal finance teams have come to the realization that this technological tide is something they can’t stop.
We’re already seeing an increase in the number of engagements taking place over the cloud (which our research backs up) and we also know that mobile working is becoming a more important consideration when looking for software.
These two technologies are critical for firms and teams trying to become more flexible and deal with the new challenges of creating extra value. What we’ve highlighted in our report matches with what is being experienced “on the front line” and the introduction of AI, machine learning and intelligent automation is only going to push the technological revolution further forward.
If you look at what these platforms can do in terms of removing repetition and reducing the potential for human error when compiling reports, it is pretty clear why, on the whole, the industry is positive about the emergence of a more digital, technically focused role for accountant.
We only expect them to become more widespread in the future.