The accounting and finance sector is one that is well placed to make use of new and developing technology. Here are some of the top technological trends that are set to have a major effect during the course of 2014.
1. Social collaboration
A company’s finance and accounting teams shouldn’t be seen as an almost separate entity, hidden away in their offices and crunching the numbers completely divorced from what’s going on in the rest of the business.
Enterprise social networking tools enable a greater cross-departmental and even cross-geographic collaboration. Those involved in finance can become more involved in strategic processes while those in other departments will be more aware of what is going on in the finance division. Social tools and facilities such as instant messaging can also speed up and streamline the communication process, leading to fewer missed memos and disregarded emails.
2. Cloud accounting
According to IT research and advisory firm Gartner, cloud computing will account for the bulk of all new IT spend by 2016. The term ‘cloud computing’ can have a slightly different definition depending on if you’re talking to an IT professional or a layman but it generally refers to the usage of software, platforms and infrastructure that are physically hosted at a remote location and accessed via the internet.
The Cloud has many different applications but cloud online accounting
is one that’s becoming ever more prevalent. The Cloud seems to offer a perfect accountancy solution as sensitive data can be stored securely at a remote location and conveniently accessed via any computer with a suitable internet connection.
The reduced need for in-house hardware and infrastructure can reduce costs while essential updates, back-ups and maintenance will be performed automatically.
3. Mobile usage
The growing importance of mobile technology has been apparent for some time now. It’s been reported that there are set to be more mobile subscriptions than there are people in the world by the end of 2014 and smartphones and tablets are taking an increasing share of the market.
For finance professionals, mobile devices have brought a great convenience factor, allowing you to access files and data wherever you are. As technology has improved there has also been a subtle shift from data consumption to enablement, allowing users to complete tasks such as authorising expenses or harvesting new information on the move.
4. Real-time accounting
Real time information (RTI) has been uppermost in a lot of accountants’ thought processes lately, as the extended deadline for HMRC’s new PAYE reporting system loomed nearer. Companies now have to provide PAYE information to HMRC in ‘real time’ – on or before the date that each employee is paid – rather than annually as was previously the case. Beyond this, the amount of digital data being created will allow companies to perform real time analytics and adapt their strategies and operations almost instantaneously.
The main challenge will lie not in collecting the data but in identifying important strands, filtering and analysing it in order to provide a competitive advantage.