By Lucas J. Taylor, masters candidate, AccountingWEB scholarship winner from Indiana University
Recent advances in smartphone technology have transformed mobile phones from simple communication devices into complex media centers with capabilities unheard of just a decade ago. This shift has made it increasingly common for mobile phone users to depend on these devices for almost any task, and apps are the downloadable add-ons that make it all possible. Need cheap entertainment while waiting for a delayed flight? There's an app for that. Want to deposit a check without leaving your house? There's an app for that too. While there are many useful (and many other less useful) mobile phone apps to assist people in their personal lives, the near future will likely see apps play a key role in the accounting world.
As the power and capabilities of mobile phones continue to improve, apps will penetrate corporate culture at an increasing rate. Currently business professionals use phones to access e-mail and other online material, but envision professionals using apps to conduct everyday business activities. Many professionals will have the opportunity to utilize smartphone technology to revolutionize the way business is done, much like e-mail revolutionized office communication.
Imagine public accounting firms with their own customized apps benefitting everyone from students to clients. An in-house scheduling app for employees could give real-time assignment updates, showing who will work on what audit engagement or special project. A recruiting app could give college students up to the minute information about a firm's campus visits and recruiting sessions. A professional development app could give accounting professionals the firm's take on recently passed legislation and its effect on the field. A client communication app could allow current clients to schedule a meeting with the firm in seconds. All of these tasks would be taken care of while the app user is on the go, saving time and allowing for maximum efficiently.
It may currently seem as though apps are designed almost exclusively for personal use, but social media sources were initially viewed the same way. Now many companies, including the Big Four accounting firms, have effectively utilized Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter for various purposes. It is commonplace for firms to recruit and advertise via social media sources, and apps have the same poser to transform how certain aspects of business are handled.
Apps are customizable, inexpensive, timesaving, and easy to use; characteristics that will spur their continued growth and expand current markets into the business world. Because of the many benefits, accounting firms will design useful, task-specific apps that improve overall efficiency. Using apps to stay on the cutting edge of technology is a must for any firm that strives to be a leader in the accounting world.