Four Trends to Influence Accounting Profession in Next Decade

Earlier in the year, Intuit released its Intuit Accounting 2020 report, which looks at the factors and trends that will affect the accounting market in the next decade. Seeing as how we handle accounting software for the oil and gas industry, I thought it interesting to look at the four trends Intuit identified to see what changes or direction SherWare will have to continue to move towards.

To get to the Accounting 2020 Report, click here.

Trend 1: Shifting Business Environments Create New Opportunities

Less formal borders of where businesses operate, and where employees work from, meaning from an office, home or on the road, in addition to outsourcing and automation of low-value accounting tasks, will create opportunities for accounting firms to transform their business model to something more than data entry and tax preparation services.

Looking at this trend locally, this means two things for SherWare: First, the trend is in line with how we, as a company, operate. At SherWare our employees aren’t limited to only working behind a desk at the office. This allows our staff to be able to work from any location necessary – including home during inclement weather, as we frequently experience during our freakishly long winters; and on the road, while we attend business meetings and tradeshows and even from clients’ offices when necessary.

Secondly, this means that our client base also will be working from the road as well. We already see a fair amount of our clients who work both in and out of the office, since they handle multiple facets of their operations both in the field and behind a desk. But as the business environment continues to evolve, I believe we’ll also see more clients working from home, on the road and off their Blackberry smartphones than we already do. This means we have to continue to develop and offer platforms not only for our software but in how our clients reach and connect with us to meet these evolving needs.

Trend 2: Demographic Shifts Change the Face of Professionals and Clients

As baby boomers reach retirement age by 2020 – they won’t look like your typical senior generation. My generation – Gen Y or the Digital Generation as we’ve been dubbed – will comprise the majority of the workforce and women and minorities will play a larger role in blurring the social, ethnic, racial and gender gap lines in the workforce – although this won’t be limited to just accounting, obviously.

What does this mean for accountants? It means “retired” seniors will be looking to accounting professionals for advice as they start new businesses even in their 60s, tech-oriented clients will expect technologically advanced tools to be available for making financial decisions and women will become an even more important financial decision maker as they will start small business at twice the rate of men during this next decade.

I’m interested to see how this second trend pans out over the next decade for our industry in oil and gas. The workforce that makes up the industry is already predominantly Caucasian, older males and their offspring – with women and minorities slowly gaining more prominence. In order for the industry to survive, it also has to evolve with the rest of the country and engage women, minorities and younger generations into its fold.

How should the industry begin to attract fresh blood into its demographic?

Trend 3: From Data to Decision Making, Technology Changes the Accounting Profession

This trend is nothing new, as we’ve already seen technology explode in the business world in the past decade. However, some new changes that will continue to change the way accountants (and all businesses, might I add) operate, are cloud computing programs – where business applications are hosted online and not required to be installed on a single computer, allowing greater access to them from any location and any platform; and on-the-go tablets, notebooks, smartphones and other mobile devices, which allow a business professional to essentially work from any location.

At SherWare, this is trend is a main one that we focus on for where we want to see our company go in the future. Cloud computing is going to continue to increase in popularity across computer applications and I believe it will reach into the oil and gas accounting world as well.

While there tends to be a disparity among our clients – either they are with the technological times and understand how computers, e-mail, cell phones, texting work or they don’t have Internet – having software that is able to be accessed on a variety of platforms including online, in the office and on a phone is going to continue to be of important too.

We will have to continue to work with our client base to discover what type of applications are best suited to their needs and how to accomplish this in the future. What types of “apps” could be created for use in the field or on the go from our software? What type of flexibility and access needs to be created to enable you to make decisions about your business at anytime and any location?

Trend 4: High-Tech Enhances High-Touch Client Outreach, Relationships and Service

To me, this trend translates to mean that typical marketing and advertising through word-of-mouth techniques is no longer going to be the par. Online marketing and a web presence is going to be a must for all types of businesses – especially if you haven’t already jumped on board, and social networking will become even more important for finding client referrals and staying in contact with current clients.

In the future, this will mean that clients will expect you to stay in contact with them more than just over the phone or through snail-mail. While, I don’t currently see social media as a huge proponent in the oil and gas industry right now – as the demographics continue to include younger generations – such as my own, I imagine that this will change greatly and having conversations across the Web and through Twitter will become more important.

For SherWare, to get to this point, this means that we have to continue to build on the relationships we already have with clients. Being flexible and accessible are two important traits for providing great customer service – and I think we’ll see how our customer service is offered continue to evolve to the social networking world in the future as well.

What are your thoughts on Intuit’s four trends for the accounting profession? Are you seeing the move towards these trends already or are they off the mark?

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