From pen, paper and calculator to cloud platforms, from years of data entry to OCR technology and from piles of documents to super sleek document management systems, it’s fair to say that technology has changed everything in the accounting profession.
The thing about these technological advances is that they come fast, like really fast. I’ve been around the profession for just over a decade and I’ve seen it changing like weather in Montana. Okay, that wasn’t a perfect analogy by any means, but you got the point, right?
As far as disruptions caused by the accounting profession are concerned, continuing education(CE/CPE) has been one of the closest witnesses. Switch back to late 1990s and the days when accountants had to attend “classroom” sessions, work on correspondence courses and visit conferences. Yes, the same accountants who had their tables filled with documents and stationary were the same accountants who were literally running for their CPE credits.
Today, when everything’s at your fingertips, it seems hardly believable. Ask any accountant in their 40s or later and they’ll vouch for it, likely with a big grin on their face. Come the early 2000s, it all began to change.
It’s no surprise that the winds of change in continuing education coincided with the dot com bubble. The rise of Internet adaptation spread to cuts and corners of the accounting profession and CPE was no more limited to four walls. By 2003, the accounting and tax professionals had approximately 3,000 online CPE courses to choose from.
The dot com bubble might have burst, but the online CE industry never looked back. As the time passed, many platforms started offering CPE/CE courses online and accountants who were already sick of classroom sessions grabbed this with both hands. Since early 2010s, most of the accounting and tax professionals have been getting their CPE/CE credits online. I won’t say it has made the life of accountants easy, but it has made it a bit less difficult.
Although the CPE/CE learning has been in a better shape than ever, it doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvement. There’s always scope for enhancements and we’re about to witness them in the very near future.
There’s no doubt that technology has been nothing short of a boon for accounting professionals, in every way you can think of. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re soaking in the sun on their office rooftops. In spite of all the technological advances, accountants are still busier than ever. It is prompting the innovation in accounting and we’re seeing some of the changes it’ll bring.
Flexible learning options such as on-demand videos (self-study) and Nano Learning will become quite popular amongst the accounting community. Having said that, live webinars will continue to be the preferred way of learning in the near future.
But perhaps the biggest change we’ll witness in the coming time will be the migration of professionals from their computer screens to those of their mobile phones , something that every accounting professional is craving. This paradigm shift in the learning medium will prompt change in learning formats as well.
Although live webinars will remain the most favored way of learning, short on-demand learning (Nano Learning) videos will become a preferred choice somewhere down the line. And the way things are going at the moment, the sight of a CPA earning CPE/CE credits while running on a treadmill or riding in a cab may not be very far off either.
Working at MyCPE, I’ve met thousands of accountants across the country. I’ve tried understanding their concerns and I have no doubt that we’re on the verge of a witnessing a major overhaul in CPE.