The way accountants work has been overhauled by the proliferation of new technology. And it’s only going to get more advanced, argues technology expert Dean Evans.
The virtual accountant
The way that accountants work is changing and evolving. You don’t need a desktop computer any more. Or a desk. You don’t even need a traditional office.
New technology is making it easier to work any time and from anywhere. While bold internet services are disrupting old business models and dragging accountancy into a new digital age.
PCs and Ultrabook laptops are being replaced by a wave of powerful tablet computers, like the Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface devices running Windows 8. There are apps for everything.
Ditch the desktop scanner and use Genius Scan on the iPad to digitise your paperwork. Capture client signatures with DocuSign, video conference with Skype, and sync important files across multiple devices with Dropbox or Google Apps. Even Excel has a handy web app.
Why tablets could be replaced
Of course, even the tablet could be replaced. Have you noticed that smartphones are getting bigger? With its 5.5-inch screen and quad-core processor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 blurs the boundaries between phone and tablet.
This ‘phablet’, and other big-screened phones like it, could be the future of portable computing. Let’s face it, smartphones have already replaced the diary, digital camera, Dictaphone, video conferencing system, portable music player and sat-nav.
The mobile market is where all the action is. Alcatel recently unveiled the One Touch Idol Ultra, which is only 6.45mm thick, while Samsung is prepping a superfast eight-core Exynos 5 Octa processor that could power the Galaxy S4.
Flexible screens are coming
In two years’ time, you could even be working on a phone with a foldable or rollable HD display. Science fiction? Far from it. Samsung outed its amazing Youm flexible screen technology at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Hardware and software improvements won’t just benefit accountants. There are a growing range of online services that can make it easier for small businesses to manage their finances.
What started with internet banking now embraces a variety of cloud accounting systems – from invoicing systems like Freshbooks and Blinksale, to full-fat bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks Online, FreeAgent and Xero.
Working remotely as an accountant is getting easier
Technology isn’t just changing how accountants work, it’s revolutionising it. Nick Callen is an experienced chartered accountant and tax adviser from Bristol. He’s recently relocated abroad, but modern technology enables him to run his UK business ‘virtually’ using email, web filing services, Dropbox, Dropsend and Xero. He also uses Skype for face-to-face meetings when his clients require them. Is this the future face of online accountancy?
Or is it something more disruptive? Consider crunch.co.uk, an online accountancy for small businesses and freelancers, where a team of accountants work for clients across the country.
Its internet service provides online accounting software and real-time updates of tax liabilities for a monthly fee. It’s another way that accountancy is changing, another way that traditional services are being repackaged to appeal to a new generation of internet-savvy clients.
How are you going to use technology to change your business?
Dean Evans is a technology writer and former editor of TechRadar.com.
Dean Evans is Editorial Director at That Media Thing Ltd.