Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predicted to Takeover

Forrester reported last summer that they estimate that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025. Additionally, Gartner has predicted that one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines within ten years. Moreover, McKinsey & Co found in an analysis that “as many as 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.”

AI Takeover – What Does it Mean?

AI takeover is not a new concept; it has served as the main theme in many movies over the last decades; such as the Terminator and Matrix film series. However, science fiction films have mainly focused on true AI takeover (taking control over the planet over the human race).

There are mixed opinions on to what extend of AI takeover will happen and whether it is good for the labor force or not. Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most known scientists, said in 2014 that he believes that “computers will overtake with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours”. Whether it will happen in that time frame or not, one cannot argue with how technology has disrupted the labor force in the past decade.

Does AI Remove or Create Jobs?

Technology has, in the past 10 years, created jobs that never existed before; such as app developer, social media manager, and cloud computing services. Technology has also allowed humans to become more productive and created more opportunities for consumer empowerment. But is this going to be the case with AI?

Fully developed AI systems will essentially perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Thus, machines would be able to learn autonomously, make decisions and interact with the world via sensory capabilities.

Related: 3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Accenture predicts that 80% of accounting and finance tasks will be automated in the next five years. What does this mean for the future of accounting professionals?

AI is going to change the accounting profession. But rather than replacing accountants, it is simply going to alter the tasks of accountants. Bernard Marr, an author specializing in business, technology and big data, wrote in a recent article for Forbes that “it is high time for every accountant to reflect on their job, identify the opportunities machine learning could offer to them, and focus less on the tasks that can be automated and more on those inherently human aspects of their jobs”.

Ultimately, accountants need to stay ahead of the technology curve and figure out what tasks they can automate. This, as a result, will allow for more time on tasks that still require human intelligence. Robots will not replace accountants anytime soon; however, AI will definitely disrupt and change the profession.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

What are you doing to stay ahead of the technology curve?

How to Improve Your Sales Forecast Accuracy

How to Improve Your Sales Forecast Accuracy

What is Forecasting and Why is it Important?

Forecasting is an essential part of every business as it helps you avoid unforeseen issues and manage your business more efficiently. The sales forecast is especially important, as it serves as the base for your company’s goals, profit and growth potential. But, to be able to depend on a sales forecast, you need it to be accurate.

Related Reading: Should Small Businesses Forecast?

Forecast Pitfalls

The problem for many businesses is that their sales forecast is based on data that isn’t accurate or realistic. Adaptive Insights’ CFO Indicator Q2 2016 report showed that only one in four CFOs met their sales forecasts. Relying on a sales forecast that is based on the wrong data can cause a lot of headache. If you are sick of coming up short on your goals, take a look at the steps below to improve your sales forecast accuracy.

Steps to Improve Sales Forecast Accuracy

1. Understand your buyer’s journey

A sales forecast is based on your sales goals and ultimately who ends up buying your products or services. While historic sales data is important, you also need to make sure you understand your buyer’s journey and each step of the sales process. Ultimately, the sales process only moves forward when your potential buyer makes a decision. Therefore, you should aim to outline each step of the buyer’s journey, what decisions are made along the way and what you can do differently at each stage. This will also allow you to make better predictions on your sales goals.

2. Incorporate external factors

It is common that companies only concern themselves with internal data and don’t realize the impact that external factors may have on your sales. As a result, their data is wrong. Because of this, you should research economic factors that have had a historical impact on your company’s sale and include in your forecasts.

3. Shorten your forecasting cycle

Finally, you should forecast more frequently, as it allows you to be alert earlier if expectations don’t match results. Consequently, you can take action quicker and prevent any arising problems.

“Consider pushing your annual forecast back to later in the year. We used to do our forecast in August but now have pushed that all the way back to November. And in the past six months, we’ve created a new forecast almost monthly. Creating that many new forecasts can take a lot of time, but sometimes it’s necessary. In the end, you don’t want to run a business off of a forecast you no longer have confidence in.”

 

– Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation, in an interview with Inc.com

One approach to increasing the frequency of your forecasts is by using a cloud-based performance management systems (CPM). Using a CPM system allows you to constantly adjust and fine-tune your forecasts. This means you can view real-time data and make better informed decisions with your business.

In conclusion, you need to establish a framework that offers clear communication and no surprises. This will allow for an improved sales forecast accuracy that, at the end of the day, gives your business a better chance of succeeding.

What steps is your company taking toward improving forecasting accuracy?

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4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

What is SaaS?

As discussed last week in our Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a method where businesses purchase software via a Web-based service. The main difference with this method, from purchasing software the traditional way, is that you rent services and you don’t have to worry about set-up costs or maintenance. Basically, you pay-for-use or via a subscription fee and only use the services you need.

Are Nonprofits Using the Cloud?

Nonprofits strive to invest in their core missions, while at the same time reducing operational cost. For many of these organizations it is difficult to maximize efficiency without breaking the budget. Cloud services are a cost-effective alternative for nonprofits, as they allow organizations to gain access to software without the additional costs of maintaining it on your own. SaaS deployment among organizations is on the rise. According to Cisco Global Cloud Index, it is estimated to grow by 59% in 2018.

Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

SaaS offers advantages for nonprofits of all sizes. While we could make this a lengthy post and touch on all of them we have simply listed the top 4 benefits below and the reason why they solve problems for nonprofits.

1. Upfront investment is minimal

There is no initial cost for setting up or other upfront fees. You would just pay as you go and you can cancel at any point. This is a big benefit to smaller nonprofits especially, who may not have the upfront cash to invest in an IT solution even though it is critical for business. Also, investing in SaaS allows your nonprofit to expense the cost as an operational expenditure rather than capital (which most CFOs prefer).

2. Cost saving

SaaS can be a real money-saver. At first glance, SaaS may look expensive; however, when you take into account the money that is needed to purchase your own software and paying people to manage it, it is quite the opposite. In the long run, SaaS offers a more affordable way to gain access to up-to-date technology without breaking your budget.

3. Scalability

SaaS is extremely flexible as it allows your organization to easily add functionality and applications. This is especially important for nonprofits who are quickly growing, have changing needs and want to have a quick response time.

3. Remote Access

SaaS is delivered via web-based applications, which means that you can access the software from anywhere, any device, and anytime (granted that you have access to the Internet). Remote access is a great benefit for nonprofits who have employees that spend time out in the field but still need access to IT software.

4. No IT headaches

Nonprofits that invest in SaaS can say goodbye to IT troubles such as maintenance, backup, updates and security. Instead, the SaaS provider is in charge of doing all of this and for no extra charge.


Does your nonprofit organization consider making the switch to SaaS? Do you see any hurdles with taking the leap? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

When people refer to “the cloud” nowadays it’s usually not the mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere they are talking about, but the cloud as if refers to cloud computing. Gartner reported earlier this year that the worldwide public cloud services market is expected to grow 18% in 2017 and ultimately total $246.8 billion. Additionally, a survey conducted by Clutch showed that nearly 70% of U.S. businesses said they were planning on increasing their spending on cloud computing in 2017. Needless to say, “the cloud” is here to stay.

But What is “the Cloud”?

It may not be news to you that more and more companies are switching over to “the cloud”, but what is it? In order to fully understand its benefits, this post will give you a beginner’s guide to the cloud and what essentially is so good about it.

How Did the Cloud Get Its Name?

Business Insider reported last year that one of the earliest uses of the term was in a diagram from US Patent 5,485,455, “Network having secure fast packet switching and guaranteed quality of service,” that was filed in January 1994. The figure of the diagram depicts the network model as a cloud-shaped figure. While the authors of the patent didn’t mean to illustrate the network as a cloud, that is how it essentially got its name.

Nevertheless, the term didn’t grow in popularity until Amazon Web Services launched Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2006. After that, many other companies followed their way by launching software (Salesforce), storage (DropBox), and combinations of the two (Microsoft Office 365). By now, 2017, the term “the cloud” is virtually everywhere.

What is Cloud Computing?

Merriam Webster defines cloud computing as:

“the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet”

Ultimately, it means that you rely on sharing computing resources rather than having your own local servers or personal devices to manage applications. Thus, companies who engage in cloud services, lease their digital assets and their employees essentially don’t know the location of the resources they are using. You can say these resources are simply “in the cloud” somewhere.

Three Types of Cloud Service Models

Cloud computing services is sold in three main models; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This method of delivering software offers businesses access to functions remotely via a Web-based service and at a much lower cost than licensed applications. Most businesses offers SaaS via a monthly fee and clients don’t have to invest in additional hardware or worry about set-up or maintenance.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): With this method, the entire platform is delivered as a service. This means that you would outsource your entire platform instead of having your own employees manage your hardware and software.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This method delivers the entire infrastructure as a service. Your company would essentially outsource the infrastructure but only pay for the resources you end up using.

While the three methods all differ from each other, they also share some similarities:

  1. You rent services instead of purchasing them, which means that IT becomes an operating expense rather than capital
  2. The platform vendors are responsible for all the maintenance, admin, troubleshooting, backup etc.
  3. Platform vendors are easy and flexible in customizing the services to you

Benefits of the Cloud

Related: 5 Top Benefits of Cloud Technology

The reason the cloud has gained so much traction in the past decade is because of all the benefits it provides. Forbes recently listed the following two benefits of the cloud:

  • Reliability: hardware and software redundancy protect you from loss of data
  • Integration: cloud services can integrate with other service systems such as project management, email and marketing, apps and social media

IBM’s dedicated Cloud page on their website lists flexibility, efficiency and strategic value as benefits of the cloud. Cloud computing offers the ability to scale, customization, and remote access via the Internet. Moreover, the cloud removes underlying infrastructure and maintenance costs. IBM also claims that “cloud services give enterprises a competitive advantage by providing the most innovative technology available”.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

Some of the main benefits that our cloud based software clients mention are the following:

  • 24/7 support
  • Utility based
  • Easy and agile deployment
  • Frees up internal resources
  • Lower capital expenditure
  • Highly automated

We would love to hear what your opinions are on the cloud. Have you or do you plan on investing in cloud technology in 2017? What benefits does the cloud offer your business? Do you see any drawbacks with the cloud?

The Nine Circles of Excel Hell: Why Financial Planning Belongs in the Cloud

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3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

Bill.com recently presented results from a survey they conducted with more than 1,000 business owners on services, technology and billing. The 2017 Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey primarily focused on accounting expectations from Millennials and other cohorts as it relates to their roles as business owners.

Why Is the Focus on Millennials?

Well, as of the beginning of 2015, they are the largest cohort in the US labor force. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to figure out how and why this cohort is fundamentally different from earlier generations. Based on insights from the survey we have summarized the 3 main things millennial business owners want from accounting firms.

1. Go Paperless

Paperless is no longer an expectation, it’s the norm. Filing and storing paper is cumbersome. We live in a digital world. Electronic and cloud-based services offers access anytime, anywhere and from anywhere. 82% of respondents said they would be “very pleased” or “pleased” if their accounting firm offered paperless services.

2. Strategic Guidance

52% of millennials in the survey indicated that they need a firm that offers insight as it relates to strategy and guidance. Thus, they want services such as fractional CFO or controller services.

3. Respond in a Timely Manner

An overwhelming majority of millennials (72%) said that the most important trait of an accounting firm was to respond to their communications in a timely manner. We live in a world where businesses no longer have regular business hours. The Internet has extended the hours that businesses are operating and also changed consumers’ expectations. Consequently, millennial business owners expect prompt responses from their accounting firms.

So What?

The insights from Bill.com’s survey are not surprising. Cloud-computing is predicted to continue growing at a steady rate. Additionally, consumers continue to expect more as the digital climate continues to develop and empower consumers. Thus, the takeaway from this should be that accounting firms need to be experts on what their customers expects. The bottom line is – you want your customers to be happy – and to do so you need to make sure you are meeting their expectations. If your main customer base consists of millennials, then three things you should consider doing are going paperless, offering CFO services and oversee your processes on response time with customers.

To learn more about what millennial business owners want from their accounting firms, download the 2017 Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey special report or infographic.

Intacct’s New Tool Provides Focus for Non Profits

Intacct’s New Tool Provides Focus for Non Profits

Mission-based, non profit organizations have a clear agenda – doing good work around the world. Unfortunately, accomplishing that is more complex than ever, requiring leaders to rely on a lot more than just good intentions in order to achieve the positive outcomes they desire.

As the scope of non profit organizations has grown, decision-making has become a high-stakes process. At the same time, donors demand a level of transparency and accountability that raises the stakes of decision-making even further. For many mission-based organizations, the decision-making process produces a lot more confusion than clarity.

Luckily, the means to practice decision-making using high-quality, real-time, complete sets of data is both attainable and easy to implement with Intacct’s spend management tool that provides focus.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

Intacct Spend Management Application

Intacct cloud ERP software is already a powerful tool for enhancing the decision-making process and eliminating the kinds of uncertainties that lead to poor choices. But this leading ERP solution has recently become even better thanks to the integration of a dedicated spend-management tool.

Users can rely on this tool to strictly keep spending within budget thresholds. By providing a top-down perspective to the spending process, along with the capabilities to set flexible but strict controls, decision-makers can ensure that every purchase is a prudent one.

Intacct’s spend management application is a unique asset to non profit organizations because it delivers the confidence of centralized budget compliance, even when spending decisions are being made at points across the globe. The kinds of cash flow issues that compromise mission projects and damage the confidence of donors can be reliably eliminated without relying on a cumbersome or complicated process.

Related: Should Small Businesses Forecast?

Understanding Intacct Spend Management in Action

The strength of this tool lies in its flexibility and broad applicability. But that can also make it difficult to imagine how a specific mission-based organization would use it in practice.

Think of a decision-maker looking at a purchase order that has just landed on his desk. The amount of the order is not substantial, but it is large enough that it can’t be rubber stamped. Previously, it would require a deep dive into financial figures and a flurry of confusing cross-referencing to determine if that purchase was fiscally viable.

With Intacct Spend Management, the determination is made instantly-in real time. The decision-maker simply has to reference where that spending category stands against the budget. It does not even require simple arithmetic in order to confidently say yes or no. That introduces a welcome level of efficiency to the decision-making process while also ensuring that budgetary issues do not compromise the organization’s agenda. It also allows the organization to convincingly demonstrate a level of sound financial governance that sustaining donors require.

If decision-making in your mission-based organization is characterized by a lack of clarity and prone to mistakes and mishaps as a result, Intacct Spend Management is the overnight solution. What tools do you use in your organization to keep track on spending and comparing it to set budgets?

 

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