While it’s easy to proclaim that technology is king, how is this actually reflected in practice? The fact is, small business owners are keen to join the digital revolution but need a little guidance to do so. Over half (54%) of 1,000 small business owners surveyed have either already started using online accounting or are waiting for their advisor to suggest it. Conversely, two thirds (67%) of advisors believe their clients would follow their lead if they adopted the change.
There are plenty of reasons for accounting professionals to join the revolution: cost effectiveness, time efficiency, data safety and fewer data errors are just a few we can name. Intuitively, businesses are attracted to accountants and bookkeepers who can help them access these benefits, but how can you stay ahead of the curve?
Once the core advantages are delivered, the scope to go further is immense. Add-on apps can create client-friendly reports or provide live dashboards that track business performance on a daily basis. A client familiar with the digital landscape can then be introduced to additional tools to further streamline their business, taking care of time-intensive tasks like payroll and inventory management.
Of course, there will always be a gap between the early adopters and the anxious late majority who will require reassurance when it comes to relying on digital tools. Addressing concerns like how their information is protected, how data is accessed and any additional costs will go a long way to ease the transition.
It’s a brave new world… or is it?
If you believe the rhetoric, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will eventually make many roles redundant. So, will the digital revolution replace bookkeepers and accountants with automation and AI? Business owners don’t think so.
Only a fraction of businesses (16%) would trust their accounts to be wholly managed by machines, with the remaining majority confident in the human element that software cannot replace. The top qualities, believed by businesses to be critical to accountancy but held only by actual advisors, include relationship building and management, trustworthiness and jargon-free communication.
It’s clear that the human touch is central to client-accountant relationships, where trust and communication are the tools to drive success. As such, rather than competing with accounting technology, accountants are now able to expand the body of available work.
While it’s true Making Tax Digital will force some practices into the digital age earlier than they might have chosen for themselves, the reality is that it’s a positive thing. Business owners have proven that they are ready and willing to make the move and this could provide the impetus accountants and bookkeepers to follow suit.
To explore our findings in detail and discover further insights, download the report here.