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The impact of emerging tech on accounting and assurance


“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life”, these famous words by Bill Gates epitomise the penetrative power technology holds when wielded in an appropriate manner.

Good technology, in essence, is a tool that is accessible and efficient as well as radical and robust. While it influences all parts of our life, a segment that has seen revolutionary progress through technology is finance, and more importantly, accounting and assurance.

How is the accounting industry changing? The pandemic, in many ways has accelerated the adoption of new technologies. For example, there is a wider adoption of cloud-based accounting software, as well as a move toward automation and artificial intelligence.

Companies now understand that with the adoption of these technologies, what took months can be done in days, what took days can be done in hours and what took hours can be done in a jiffy, all through the click of a button, that is the simple yet transformational significance of technology in the financial sector.  

To explore this further, one must dissect the various aspects of technology and how they aid one of the world’s most integral industry:

Robotic Process Automation

Machine learning and RPA are taking the wheel to reframe the approach to accounting. Continuous accounting uses automation and other technology to insert tasks that are normally done at a particular time into regular day-to-day activities.

Having said that, the benefit of continuous accounting is not just fewer sleepless nights in the office for your accounting team. By automating repetitive processes, you build efficiency and data reliability. This makes time for your accounting team because errors can be a frequent source of time-consuming work.

Artificial Intelligence

One of the more recent but easily the most path-breaking developments in modern history, artificial intelligence can analyse patterns, trends and formations. In accounting, this means that machine learning can adapt as per the needs of individual clients, analyse historical data and customise accordingly.

This not only reduces administrative effort for auditing, but also streamlines execution during assurance. In fact, the technology is so beneficial that, as per a 2020 survey carried out by INDIAai (the National AI Portal of India); some candidates attributed up to 20 percent of their organisation’s earnings to AI.

AI needs enormous amounts of data in order to be effective. Most importantly, the outputs of all enabling technologies need to be trusted by the accountants.

Cloud Storage

Instead of being surrounded by countless statements, numerous reports and a barrage of other details, an entire floor’s worth of bookkeeping information can be stored in the safe and concise space of one digital app.

Cloud storage can outright eliminate the risk of loss of important data and also provide unmatched flexibility. No longer are we needed to worry about files being misplaced or not being in the office to locate a certain paper.

Cloud storage enables secured storage of all materials and the ease of being able to have them at the palm of your hand anytime and anywhere.

Increasingly, many companies are working towards implementing cloud-based accounting solutions in the upcoming years. Enterprise resource planning systems integrate the accounting software and financial data with other crucial parts of your business. An integrated Enterprise resource planning platform consolidates data from these different areas to give you more actionable insight into your business.

Data Analytics

With great data comes great clutter! The more data points you havethe , bigger the chance of having too many resources that could bottleneck operations. This is where the magic of analytics comes in! Data analytics inspects, sifts, transforms and models data to suit the chartered accountant and client’s requirements.

In a nutshell, with data analytics, you have everything you need and nothing you don’t, which can prove to be a blessing during annual audits where precision is of utmost importance.

Blockchain

The internet is written in ink, not pencil. Nothing symbolises the virtues of this fact more than Blockchain technology. It could be categorised as a digital ledger, but unlike the physical ledger that can be manipulated or controlled,

Blockchain technology decentralises the whole system, and brings in unparalleled transparency. Each minute transaction is captured by Blockchain, and this can never be fabricated, thus ensuring maximum clarity. It can further provide pin point certainty in terms of ownership and asset management too.

This transformation of the financial culture suggests that we are moving towards a world where accounting, auditing, assurance and organisational ethos in general are getting more cleaner, clearer and responsible thanks to the advent of technology.

Blockchain helps transform the traditional financial transaction system by grouping transactions into blocks and organising them in a global network.

Why emerging technologies is the way forward

Technologies like RPA will make the forever dreaded month-end close for accountants a hassle-free and significantly less frantic as they no longer have to spend hours manually tallying transactions, assembling large data sets, and creating Excel reports which have to be updated on a regular basis.

Through RPA, manual, error-prone tasks are eliminated from human responsibility, giving companies the ability to generate results efficiency and accurately at significantly a lower cost. Simultaneously, accountants can work towards an intellectual, more human oriented tasks like strategy and analysis.

Tools like artificial intelligence and cloud-based technologies like Blockchain are now taking charge of spearheading accounting automation and making practices such as Continuous Accounting possible.

The ability to input data through optical character recognition is transforming the preparation of tax returns through tax preparation softwares. Computer-assisted audit tools and techniques (CAATT) software allows auditors to perform audit testing to an exceptional degree.

Implementing the technological tools and practices discussed is bound to change the contemporary accounting roles. While certain accounting jobs will indeed most likely be replaced by automation, new jobs will make way in the financial sector.

Technological integration in the accounting industry is letting accountants participate in more intellectual and wholesome careers by shifting their roles to more intellectually stimulating tasks like creating, analysing, interpreting and strategis ing. The team can now focus on a culture of continuous improvement by monitoring for efficiencies in processes.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)



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