Accountancy is a business which really benefits from staying ahead of the curve with regards to technology. Business software is extremely common and most, if not all firms use some form of digital application to handle bookkeeping and other numbers related operations within their business. Client side applications for accounting firms help keep customers in the loop remotely, and with automated systems, reducing the need for staff on phones being asked questions.
But the thing about technology today is the pace at which it is rapidly developing – faster and faster every year, not only due to enhanced hardware and storage but also due to more efficient programs being written. More and more people are starting to prefer to use cloud software for example, with larger firms storing their data off-site on secure cloud networks for better security and ease of access. Going digital can also help you save – as software provider Sage reported that switching to digital software can save up to £17k a year for small and medium businesses.
Getting The Best Out Of Tech For Your Firm
Using the cloud cuts down on costs too – having your own storage servers for data can be costly for smaller firms who don’t want to invest in IT equipment and expertise – so there is real potential for your firm to save by getting this technology deployed and into the hands of your customers.
The marketing side of accountancy is also benefitting from a big tech boost, with social media strategies for firms allowing them to target adverts at specific demographics, in specific areas, to better net in client engagement with the clients that really matter. A big part of this push to reach customers is video, with video editing software even easier to master and use – plus, firms who don’t have the savvy or the patience for editing can easily hire freelancers or work with agencies to produce videos for a fraction of the costs of investing in a dedicated department.
On the website side there is even more room for tech savvy webmasters to tweak and play with their websites to help bring in more customers. If your firm has a webmaster willing to go above and beyond the requirements, you can utilise easy-to-use web design tools to help improve engagement with potential customers the easy way.
One of the hottest most in demand pieces of software to improve engagement is adding in live web chats with customers to your site. With web chats it’s easier than ever to funnel customers into the services which will work the absolute best for them. According to Hubspot, approximately 82% of customers consider an immediate response as “important” or “very important” when they have a marketing or sales question, so quick responses are best. You won’t need to have a lot of people working the live chat, and it can even be automated for the first few interactions if you need to make it even less labour intensive.
Apps Are The New Normal
Every business which has the technology game down to a tee now relies on apps. Bespoke apps can be made for all sorts of businesses and accounting is no exception – there are even companies like myfirmsapp which are dedicated to getting firms of all types and sizes into the app world, and can help design a piece of software to suit your needs.
For the consumer, an accounting app provides an up to date link with an accountancy service which is automated – there’s as little human to human interaction as possible, the app updates itself out of business hours and clients can look at the information they need on demand from their mobile phones. Obviously if you’re in sales and are jetting around with just your phone, having your accounting details on hand can be a bit of a life saver.
Getting your app designed, built and made up to date with your data can be a tricky and time consuming process, but with the help of your webmaster, an external or internal app design team, and a bit of technical expertise from both parties, your firm can join hundreds of other firms who offer their customers the ease and comfort of a dedicated application for their accounts.
AI and The Cloud
The front end of accountancy tech is filled with ways to enhance your firm’s reach with customers, as well as ways of getting in touch with them without having to lift a finger on your end. It’s all about automation, with firms utilising applications either made in-house or which can be used by your accounting department at an existing business. If you use apps, they’ll be able to store data in the cloud, which is much more economic and secure than storing information on site.
Right at the needle’s point of the cutting edge is AI. Often overhyped, and yet much sought after, predictive modeling systems utilising neural networks or other intelligent systems are becoming more and more talked about by firms. AI can help with many operations, but analysts are predicting it will most likely be used to predict trends, or build graphs and models which help the human operators grow their businesses more efficiently. A report was recently released by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) exploring the subject, which contains a lot of interesting info.
An AI algorithm can dive into the raw data your firm gathers and feast upon the information, regurgitating useful ideas and showing trends without the other data cluttering around them. It clears the way for your firm to see where it is doing well, and can notify you of what your shortcomings are. The programs can study your current pool of clients, and compare with your past clients, showing an upward or downward curve in their age, their location, or the amount of income they have. AI exists because of information and works best with cloud computing – the wave of the future is online, and this is the information era.
Security Is A Must
A lot of accounting firms are sworn to secrecy with the information they keep on clients. In fact, governments in the UK and US require firms to comply with certain data protection guidelines, so it’s obvious how much security means to your firm. The EU also enforces regulations such as The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – these regulations are designed to keep customer data safe, not just from malicious use but to prevent it from being lost or misused by companies too.
For security, as always, the best place to start is with anti-virus and anti-malware software. As always, a free version of these for businesses just won’t do – you will always need to invest in a reliable brand’s software package, which provides comprehensive coverage from a wide variety of threats from cyberspace. Norton and AVG and other companies of this nature now offer anti-hacking, email scanning, and a plethora of other small features for paying customers.
Your cloud storage is ultimately the most secure way to store data, as the cloud is often behind even bigger security systems than any small business can afford. If you choose to store your data on site there’s a number of measures to take – physical security can be enhanced with biometric scanners that use fingerprints for access, and personnel can carry access cards for server rooms. For people who log into company apps and systems using phones, a useful trick that’s now on the scene is ‘two factor authentication’ – a system which makes sure users input more than just a simple password to access sensitive accounts.
What Will You Do?
The unfolding information era has its problems – climate change, economic instability, and social unrest – but on the other more positive end the future looks bright for essential business sectors that never go out of fashion, which accountancy absolutely is one of. With technology by your side, and a proactive outlook which emphasises constant improvement, you too can ride the wave of the future to the shores of success.
For your accountancy firm, there are three big avenues to exploit with technology: customer engagement, data management, and of course security. Getting your head around these may seem tricky, but don’t fret, we’ve got your back. Check our blog and take some time to explore more specific articles on some of the topics shown here. If we can help in any way don’t hesitate to get in contact with us here at MFP.