New Accounting Technologies in 2014

Gina Deveney
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Advances in accounting technology have been one of the quiet revolutions of the Information Age. Where, thirty or forty years ago, an accountant was restricted to paper spreadsheets, paper ledgers, and an electronic calculator, today's accounting technology is able to parse numbers that sometimes seem more appropriate to inserting a satellite into orbit than calculating capital gains. More impressive, much of the accounting technology on the market today comes in the form of apps that make it possible to distribute an accounting staff geographically and get the work done from any location. Most impressive of all is the pace at which new accounting technology has advanced. Every few days, it seems, there's something in the accounting news about a new program that makes last year's world-beating accounting technology look like a covered wagon. Here is some of the hottest new accounting technology that will be in the accounting news for 2014.

Cloud computing is one of the biggest potential revolutions in accounting technology since the invention of the electronic slide rule. With cloud-enabled apps, it is possible to connect to your data remotely, from even a comparatively primitive device, and run projections, computations, and fast-track analytics that will keep you on top of the work your accounting team has taken on. Thanks to the growing ubiquity of the cloud, you'll never have to work alone as cloud computing creates a shared environment in which every member of the team can share expertise and experience.

Improved mobility is another accounting technology that's quietly revolutionizing the industry. With relatively simple programs, it is now possible to work from any location and from almost any Internet-enabled device. This has implications beyond simply taking your work home with you at night. With a truly mobile interface, the overhead of having an office, top-down vertical command structure, and traditional (high labor cost) employees can be dispensed with. While the change won't be fully actualized in a single year, 2014 will see an acceleration of the distributed model running on mobility apps such as those designed by accounting software innovator CCH.

While the previous two technologies are changing the way you work, the rise of real-time analytics will change the nature of the work itself. In the past—and, frankly, the present to a great extent—accountants were restricted to working with data that had already been gathered. In the case of audits, the numbers might be out of date by several years. Real-time analytics, made possible by point-of-sale technology, cloud connections, and fast-moving Big Data analysis, will move accounting from a field of post hoc rationalizations to a real-time partner in companies' operational decision making.

From its earliest days, the accounting profession has been friendly to innovations that promised to ease the burden of wrestling numbers all day. From the first multiplication tables to the computation engine of Charles Babbage, and on through calculators and clouds, new accounting technology has driven the industry like few others. The accelerating returns these technologies are showing stand to make 2014 another banner year for accountants.


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