By 2020, only four years from now, smart machines and cloud based computers may be providing the majority of accountancy services, completing many tax returns and parts of audits. This should be seen as an opportunity for accountants to increase their workload capacity, while freeing up more time to expand their services portfolio and attract more clients.  – Dr. James Canton and the Institute for Global Futures, for™

SMBs are facing seismic shifts in the way business is conducted: online, virtual, mobile, always-on, social, global, more regulated and staffed (or even managed) by millennials who have never known a world without smartphones, social media and Internet apps.

The Internet of Things and smart machines are more than smart TVs and connected cars. It’s also your client’s inventories, their business processes, their equipment, financial transactions and nearly everything they do on all the devices they use to conduct their business. And all of the data generated by so many things and activities connected to the Internet is increasingly being used to create data analytics. Your clients will increasingly rely on those data analytics (including predictive analytics) to manage their business.  This can be either a threat or opportunity for accountants. No one is better positioned than the accountant to provide business advice based on these new streams of data.

If you’re still doing business this way, buried by the paper (or shoeboxes) your clients bring in, I want to suggest there is a better way. A way that leverages technology to help you become a more real-time advisor to your clients. A way that takes your firm from one that is valuable at tax time, to one that is valuable ALL THE TIME.

What are the trends impacting accountants today?

The 3rd platform is underpinned by four key technologies:

  1. Cloud
  2. Mobile
  3. Big data analytics and
  4. Social

Gartner refers to this as the “Nexus of Forces”.

Cloud, in particular, has a particularly disruptive impact, forcing change in business models.  The benefits of cloud computing have compelled business of all types and sizes to adopt it. They’re leveraging it to obtain the mobility, reliability, flexibility and costs savings they need  in today’s hypercompetitive world. Those businesses are your clients of today and tomorrow, and they are increasingly expecting you as their accountant to provide them with these same benefits in your solutions.

Accounting Today; April 18,2016: “The Internal Revenue Service is warning tax professionals about a new scam in which cybercriminals obtain remote control of tax preparers’ computer systems, complete and file client tax returns, and redirect tax refunds to thieves’ accounts.”   Cloud-based software provides greater security from such attacks.

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