Hennie Ferreira is the Co-Founder and CEO of Osidon. His passion for entrepreneurship resulted in him founding Pretoria-based company, Osidon, a digital online accountancy company offering industry-leading services to SMEs.
As the world navigates the fourth industrial revolution, entrepreneurs and small businesses in South Africa cannot afford to be left behind. In a case of “adapt or die”, cloud and AI accounting are offering businesses and accountants the competitive edge and the opportunity to be at the forefront of the digital revolution.
Cloud and AI accounting have opened doors like never before and have revolutionised the accounting and small business industries, offering countless benefits to improve profitability, efficiency and add value to business owners.
While many in South Africa are concerned that automation and a move towards digital solutions will lead to job losses, the opposite is in fact true. With SMEs making up 90% of formal businesses in the country, contributing 34% to the GDP, it is crucial to embrace technology and digital solutions to create employment opportunities in the thriving small business industry.
If we position South Africa at the forefront of digital innovation in the region, we stand the chance to not only create more jobs, but also to up-skill and re-skill our current workforce.
While challenges such as load-shedding, poor connectivity, access to tech solutions and the high cost of data remain, a recent survey by Xero in South Africa paints a positive picture of accountants and small businesses embracing technology to increase profits and efficiency.
The benefits of cloud accounting, AI and machine learning are endless. They have become buzz words in the tech industry, and, while it can be daunting at first, the benefits can be explained simply.
Firstly, cloud accounting is secure, accessible, affordable and effective.
Secondly, the integration possibilities offer value-added services to clients. Payment systems, sales systems and stock management systems can easily integrate with platforms such as Xero and Osidon. When these systems work together, clients have access to a one-stop shop to run their business more cost-effectively, productively and efficiently. Osidon has integrated with Xero and also added numerous other functionalities, such as banking services, access to website platforms and legal advice to their accounting, tax and payroll services.
Because of these new technologies, accounting clients can access information in real-time, anywhere and on almost any device. This means business owners have a clear view of their financial situation and can make informed decisions using accurate and relevant information. This is critically important in an ever-changing business environment where decisions have to be made quickly.
Of the 200 accountants and 400 small business owners surveyed by Xero in South Africa, 81% believe accountants will still be required in 10 years’ time. However, in the digital revolution, the role of accountants in small businesses will change significantly. While tech will not replace the human element and the need for human interaction and support, accountants will need to take on an advisory and strategic role.
If tech solutions can take over the routine tasks automatically, accountants and business owners are free to focus on their core business tasks. They will have more time to focus on their clients, developing their business and growing the economy, leading to job creation and improved employment figures.