What has been the most important advancement in accounting technology in recent times?
I think there have been a few big things happen recently. Of course, as everyone would probably say, cloud technology has been huge but the other big advancement over the last few years has been integrations.
What I mean by that is advancements in technologies around data feeds, whether that’s bank feeds going into an accounting system, whether it's broker feeds or bank feeds going into a self-managed super fund system, whether it's integration between a general ledger and a tax system, whether it's integration between a general ledger and a work paper management system and maybe even then integration into your work flow system.
How has cloud accounting and the common ledger redefined the role of accountants?
I don't know if it has redefined the role but I think cloud accounting has supported accountants to be a business adviser, to really provide added value back to their clients. Some people are saying that cloud accounting and the single ledger is changing the whole model of accounting and will potentially put some firms out of business and that accountants have to revolutionise what they’re doing. I understand that logic, but my statement is this: cloud accounting has finally enabled accountants to do what they want and that is to streamline the compliance process as much as possible and get data and information about their clients much faster so they can have more real-time conversations and add more real-time value.
Accountants didn’t do all of those years of study to do data entry and keying in information; they did those years of education so they have the ability to look at a balance sheet or profit and loss statement and make logical business decisions or give business advice on what either an individual or business should do.
What will be the most exciting technology development in accounting software over the next 12 months?
I think it’s big data. The ability to take data from multiple sources and integrate data and interrogate data in real time means that accountants, who are experts with numbers, have more information than ever before to give more valuable advice to their clients.
Cloud and other things are the technology now and big data is the next big technology trend because it helps accountants to actually analyse the data available.
I also think mobile technology has a long way to go. It’s hard to say exactly where that will be but obviously mobile workers interacting with their office, interacting with their clients, maybe an accounting firm interacting with their clients on their mobile device, maybe firms creating apps for clients phones... I think mobile technology will continue to explode.