Despite some fundamental infrastructure barriers, one mid-tier accounting firm partner believes there will be a spike in uptake of cloud technologies and big data services in the Australian accounting industry this financial year.
Cloud accounting and big data uptake tipped to spike
Speaking to Accountants Daily, RSM Brisbane managing partner Andrew Graham said that he expects more firms and clients to adopt cloud accounting as the benefits become more evident.
“I think the uptake in cloud accounting has been a lot slower than perhaps we all anticipated, but I think it will start to gather a little bit more momentum as clients see the efficiencies of cloud systems and real time data and access to real time data,” he said.
Mr Graham believes that the adoption rate has been slow across both accounting firms and their clients, with access and trust being two of the key barriers.
“In some of the rural areas connectivity with broadband and the internet is not fantastic, so that’s probably impacted the take-up of cloud accounting in some of those areas. That will continue to improve,” he said.
“To a degree perhaps at the start it’s a trust issue in the data and how secure the data is because you’re seeing lots of cases now where data’s being compromised and sometimes it’s at the big corporate level but it’s also a risk for the SME-type market as well.”
While there are risks associated with cloud accounting, Mr Graham said they provide opportunities for accountants to expand into new service ares.
“The opportunities for the accountants in particular is diversifying into those consulting areas or services around cyber security, around fraud and forensics and digital services,” he said.
Furthermore, Mr Graham suggests that accountants should be using big data to identify other opportunities that exist for their clients.
“Big data and dashboard reporting shines a light on advisory opportunities, particularly for the client but also for the accountant,” he said.
“What I mean by that is it really shines a light on the levers to pull in the business to achieve growth and profit, so that will be good for the client because it will be more targeted in terms of these are the key areas that you need to focus on.”
Mr Graham believes that big data improves transparency and visibility around what's actually happening in clients business.
“[Accountants can use big data to] identify what needs to happen and help the client implement the right strategies for growth and profit,” he said.
“So it’s the difference between identifying it and then taking the next step and figuring out what the client needs to do about it and that's the role of the accountant or the trusted adviser.”