We’re all familiar with the old cliches about needing to keep up with changing technology, right?

We’ve heard it from basically everyone, starting with your parents telling you to get a job involving computers before you ever went off to college, but there’s a good reason why it comes up so often: it’s true.

There are precious few job fields out there that don’t include some kind of technological aspect, and as we’re all aware of thanks to the amount of times we’ve had to buy new cell phones over the years, technology will march on and change whether we want it to or not.

This goes double for CPAs. As data recording methods grow more sophisticated and the technology you use to get your job done gets ever more complicated, changes in technology are bound to affect the way you go about your daily work. But it doesn’t have to be a huge pain! Instead of getting blindsided, check out this list of three changing trends in accounting technology to keep an eye out for:

The Cloud

Think about how many times you’ve had to share a file with one of your clients in order for them to update it themselves and then send it back so you can keep working on it to make sure everything is accurate and in place.

With the increase in popularity of cloud documents, this may soon be a thing of the past. Experts predict that by the end of 2017 more than 90% of small-to-medium sized businesses will be using cloud-based software for their accounting needs to better track work and make sure everything is being done correctly and efficiently. If you still use desktop software, it might be time to move on to something a little more…flexible.

Automation

In a similar vein, not only can multiple people edit spreadsheets at once these days, we’re also rapidly getting to a point where those spreadsheets can fill themselves out. Software such as Sageworks’ Electronic Tax Return Reader allows for the automated input of needed data from a tax return document to save time and effort and improve accuracy – all of which are things we strive for as accountants, right?

Major firms increasingly expect certain commonly-performed activities in accounting firms to become automated, such as data collection and processing. Ideally this will leave you, the dedicated CPA, time for more ‘abstract’ things such as problem solving and relationship building. As good as they might get, there’s some things computers can’t help with – but we need to learn to make the most of the things they can.

Information Security

It seems like almost every day, the news is talking about some big new information breach that happened to a major financial company. These attacks grow more common and sophisticated every time they happen, and the defenses against them need to keep up.

Particularly in the world of accounting, where sensitive financial, tax, and personal information comes into play with nearly every task, security is tantamount. Each step you take through your day, from logging into your emails to filling out forms to even entering the building is going to be further secured by additional steps such as RSA tokens to protect secure networks, enhanced network and password reinforcement, and much more. Even smaller things like the disallowing of outside links in email messages and the prevention of client data from getting into open networks will play a role in keeping client information that much safer.

Doesn’t seem too hard to wrap your head around all this, does it? Just keep an eye out for these (and other) technological advancements going forward and you’ll stay on top of everything!

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