Will Clouds and Robots Make Accountants Obsolete?

Certified Public Accountant
Gary M. Kaplan, C.P.A., P.A.
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There are so many tools available to the modern accountant that many are beginning to fear for the future. Will there be a time when the trusted CPA is replaced with virtual laborers that can perform the same tasks? What is the future for the field of accounting? Are you the accountant of the past or the accountant of tomorrow? 

Technology's Role in the Future of Accounting

There is no doubt that technology will play a huge role in accounting in the future, as it is already increasingly doing so. Consider how we already use tech in our daily lives. We can communicate with clients and keep real time books from any location using cloud accounting. The IRS is already using AI and sophisticated programs to catch tax fraud. At times it feels like accountants are just one good invention away from being obsolete. However, this is not obsolescence but rather a push in a new and exciting position.

Offering Solutions Instead of Tools

While it is true that a well-written algorithm can probably perform part of an accountant's job, this is assuming that a CPA only performs math computations. Anyone familiar with the field knows that there is so much more. Accountants are increasingly using technology to perform time-intensive and mindless tasks such as data entry and calculations. However, this is just the beginning of our field. Numbers must then be analyzed and real solutions developed. Businesses need analyses and recommendations that they can use to move forward. While a computer can add, it takes a human to analyze and to develop solutions for real human businesses. Now is the time to ask yourself exactly what you offer your clients. Is it something that a robot can also perform in the near future? If so, it may be time to rethink your business model and focus on developing your business so you are adding real human value and not only a skillset.

Have You Embraced the Future?

The accountant of the future is more of an idea person than a number pusher. If this future seems frightening, it is because you have not adequately prepared. Here are a few things you can do to make this transition in the business go more smoothly:

  • Adjust your attitude. Don't be afraid of i-solutions... let them work for you!
  • Move information to cloud accounting for easy access and analysis.
  • Automate as much of the dirty work as possible.
  • Begin offering analyses and advice more than simple answers to math problems.

Many people will argue that these are easier said than done. However, embracing a model with the accountant as the solver of big questions rather than the wielder of a calculator is crucial to your future in this business. 

Accounting is not the only business to be affected by changes in technology and in the economy. The firms that stand strong in these times are ones who learn to add value by being more human than ever.


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