WIth 2016 behind us, Xero’s Head of Accounting and co-founder of The Wow Company Paul Bulpitt names his four hottest trend predictions for the accounting industry this year.
Artificial intelligence:The speed of development of AI is accelerating. In 2017, we will see the benefits of artificial intelligence hit accountants. AI will be the next truly transformational technology to rewire small business. Expect to see accounting processes shortened through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, whilst the services accountants offer their clients could be dramatically enhanced by AI, by enabling them to almost predict the financial future for their clients.
- Automation:Much of how accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses manage finances can be automated, and 2017 will see this wave of automation spread. The next big finance task to be automated is payroll – we will see payroll as a function shaken up as never before.
- A broader services range:As fee pressure on compliance services increases and more of the process work can be automated, 2017 will see accountants offer a wider range of services. Xero’s recent State of Accounts report found that almost half of UK accountants believe skills in risk analysis (43%) and management consultancy will be required to thrive in the industry beyond 2025 as tech continues to develop, but this year we could be looking at an expansion into HR and IT services.
- Consolidation:Over the last 100 years, every big technological leap has led to a fragmentation of industries and cloud accounting has been no different. It has never been easier to start an accounting business and over recent years we have seen the emergence of many small firms. However, after every wave of fragmentation follows a period of consolidation, which may see more mergers and acquisitions take place.