The arrival of cloud technology and artificial intelligence has brought great change and potential, however concurrently it also inspires concern about what it means for the future of the accounting profession.
The accounting industry has undeniably been reshaped by automation and will only continue to evolve. However, as I shared at my session at Accountex Boston recently, we now have the opportunity to take advantage of the change automation brings and harness it in order to create work-life harmony – rather than enforcing strict balance.
Humans have long feared automation will replace their jobs at various points in history. When watching the 2016 film, Hidden Figures, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the point in the film where new technology is introduced and what is happening today.
The film retells the true story of three female NASA mathematicians; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. These women were instrumental in launching the first American astronaut into orbit.
When Dorothy Vaughan realizes that the introduction of IBM computers had the capability to automate the jobs of the human computers on her team, herself included, she decides to embrace the new technology.
By taking advantage of the potential offered by the new technology and “upskilling” themselves, Dorothy and her team make themselves indispensable. Instead of eliminating existing jobs, the new technology opened up careers in computer engineering, software development and tech support.
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Similarly, cloud technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming the accounting industry for the better. Apps in the cloud accounting ecosystem have helped almost eliminate manual data entry, enabling data to instead flow automatically between platforms.
Functions such as real-time reporting and automatic workflows are helping accountants deliver strategic analysis as a service, while giving them more time in their day. Not only is it of benefit to your practice and clients, but with additional time in your day, you can seize the opportunities offered by advances in technology and reclaim time to both reshape your practice to be a healthier, more efficient workplace.
The B3 Method
The key to leading a happy, fulfilling life is to take advantage of this so you can create harmony between your business and personal life. It’s a concept I discuss in-depth in my new book, Business, Balance and Bliss, where I outline my methodology for creating work-life harmony, more simply known as The B3 Method.
The B3 Method entails selecting a ‘balance,’ an activity that gives you the ability to essentially switch off from your busy day, and tap into the side of your brain that doesn’t get used very often in your workday.
It can be any number of things: exercise or music, painting, sculpting, arts and crafts, poetry, expressive writing, photography, drama, furniture making, knitting, cooking and even dancing. You may have to try different activities to find the right balance for you, allowing yourself to be flexible and open enough to making adjustments along the way as you go on this journey.
No matter what your balance is, know that this time is an important investment in you. If you give your mind and body the resources to rest, grow, and expand, you will be better in all aspects of your life and possibly bring more creativity and flexibility to your work life.
Plugging into your creative side will enable you to be more innovative. When you encounter challenges at work you can apply the techniques from your chosen balance to the business situation to create a better outcome.
It could be something as simple as implementing calendar appointments, or reaching out for support from family and friends. Use something that helps you learn to make your balance a habit, rather than a short-term fix.
Technology and its constant evolution is making us more connected now than ever before. People often talk about wanting to have ‘work-life balance,’ but never really take the time to explore what that means to them.
Take advantage of the freedom that cloud and other automation technologies provide and allow yourself time to unplug, applying your creative talents outside of work to what you do so you can have an overall more well-rounded life.
About Amy Vetter
Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is Global VP, Education & US Head of Accounting at Xero.