Where will your accounting firm be positioned in 2020?

Feb 16th 2011
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Intuit recently released their Accounting 2020 report that discusses their vision on what they think the accounting world will look like in 2020 in regard to demographics, economic, social and technology shifts in the industry. It is a great read and a lot of fun to think about – for the full report – not just my thoughts – go to: http://blog.accountant.intuit.com/intuit-news/intuit%c2%ae-2020-report-depicts-future-of-the-accounting-profession/

When I read this report, I first thought of my son. His first relationship with a girl has been a completely virtual relationship so far. Even though they go to the same school – their entire communication is through texting and mobile technology. When I was little you passed notes, talked on the phone – so outdated! Now, they can wave from afar but text for hours and never actually speak! My kids are completely comfortable with mobile technology and computers, setting their own wallpaper on their iPod Touch, taking pictures/videos with it, and selecting and utilizing apps they download. They figured out computer video games before they could read and write, all on their own. All of this is second nature to them.
Next, I thought of my Grandparents – had no concept of what technology was on its way or what is still to come. The Television seemed a stretch! I can’t imagine them comfortable with technology – they had so much fear of what happened during the Depression and trusting anything. Would they have trusted online banking in this day and age, electronic processing of credit cards and checks when they were hiding money in coffee cans? Today’s Baby Boomers grew up with parents of that mindset – now this same generation is approaching “grandparenthood” themselves, if not there already. Baby Boomers are now utilizing many mobile technology devices and computers. What seemed scary before to them as new technology emerged, now they are slowly adopting.    As retirement approaches and the mindset changes to continuing to work as a hobby, their skills in technology are not an option, it’s a must. Not only to work, but it is a requirement to communicate with their children and grandchildren as well.
My other thought that I had was when I grew up and I worked in my Mom’s business. The bus dropped me off each day at her office, where I would help with the end of the day activities of preparing manual work orders for the next day, bank deposits at the end of the day, scheduling appointments with customers in a book, utilizing a calculator for pricing for customers and tearing off the tape to keep in the customer’s file. She never had real-time financials – all of the manual deposits and other manual recordkeeping were given to her Accountant to prepare the tax return.  The financials she received were months and months after the actual result. Information was not current. Now with accounting software, even the operational documents are automated and streamlined. We couldn’t have even imagined what an accounting software like QuickBooks could have done for the business, or payroll services that automatically take the taxes out of the bank account, downloading banking transactions or being able to take a credit card or check over the phone or on a cell phone so the Maids were not handling money having to bring it back to the office each day. 
With the accounting and mobile technology we have today, we are able to solve all of that pain of manual data entry and not being able to evaluate the business on a daily basis. With available technology and accounting software we have the real-time data to make the decisions that are needed to turn around cash flow or change course on a business initiative to ensure success. It makes data entry a thing of the past so that business owners have more time to work on their business and be more strategic, instead of focusing on data entry. Technology and Apps that continue to be released are driving toward solving as many pain points as possible – from the accountant and business owner side. Business has the opportunity to grow if more efficiency is built into the software they utilize and time is spent on value-added activities and most importantly – time spent AT work is reduced. Quality of life has become more and more important to all generations – so technology gives us the accessibility of freedom – freedom to work and freedom to live our lives. Not letting work take over our life and being able to balance doing everything we want to do in life. Succeed at work and succeed at home.
For those of you that read this blog post and the entire Intuit 2020 report and feel concerned about where technology is taking the accounting industry – less data entry, free sharing of information socially with peer to peer networking, more automation for business owners, less geographic and international boundaries – and wonder - where does that leave the accounting industry? I challenge you to seize the opportunity in this report. Take advantage of the information being given to you by Intuit’s research and strategize on where your firm will be in 2020? How can you plan for these changes and get your vision on paper? Information is power – find your niche and the markets you want to serve, and how you want to serve them.  Change is a constant, so the way you do things today will not be the same in 2020. Just like the way my Grandparents, my Parents, and myself did not have social technology or do business as my kids do today or tomorrow. Be excited for the new opportunities that await and plan for it – don’t be caught by surprise – start planning now and get it on paper! Better yet, instead record your plan on an electronic database or app that tracks your progress and keeps you accountable to milestone dates you set to track your future success in 2020! 

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