We’re on the cusp of a revolution the likes of which we have never seen before. There will be jobs that disappear; there will also be new jobs and new ways of doing business. Consider the big new names in business that didn’t even exist 15 years ago: Uber the world’s largest taxi company, that owns no vehicles; Facebook which is, arguably, the world’s largest media company and creates no content, Alibaba which is the world’s most valuable retailer and has no inventory and for travellers, Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider which owns no real estate.
These four companies now directly employ north of 50,000 people and indirectly produce work for over 10 million people. That’s small comfort for those bookkeepers and accountants who earn the majority of their income from data entry which can largely be automated. There’s a tipping point here; that is, where the mass adoption of digital services is in play.
But far from being challenged, the solution for bookkeepers is actually ridiculously simple: the time to offer digital services is now. The time to deepen engagement with small business customers is now. The real question facing technicians – be they bookkeepers or accountants – is “Are you digitally ready?”
Just as the big four noted earlier have created jobs, so too will technology attract new entrants to bookkeeping, and the industry will move nicely forward. On the other hand the future of clerical jobs will suffer with inevitable off-shoring of services jobs. One of the great attractions of a profession like bookkeeping is the benefits of
controlling their own destiny.
Paper is the first past the Tipping Point
The stack of tax receipts, invoices, and countless journals at tax deadline time will soon be history. It’s now a simple concept that (almost) everyone gets: sort, upload, and store everything online. In short, run business entirely from the cloud. You will soon forget the time and money wasted on a printer. Now being “out of the office” is no answer to working: you can access, search, and share documents with clients, and accountant, in just a few clicks.
Scan, Upload, Shred
When you first go paperless, scanning, uploading, and storing documents online is where you’ll do the bulk of the work. Most will use Dropbox; some will use Receipt Bank to snap and digitally store a photo of receipts every time they buy something for their business. Alternatively, you can outsource the process using Shoeboxed (although they may not have arrived in AusNZ).
Collaborate with Google Drive
If you have subcontractors, Google Docs is there to create and collaborate on documents with clients and others. It allows multiple users to simultaneously view, edit, comment on, and even chat together within documents, spreadsheets and forms.
Being digitally ready for the “revolution” means you don’t have to catch a bus, car or train to sign or have clients sign docs. Already that process seems like such a waste of time. Adobe’s EchSign allows you to send clients a link to a secure page where they can digitally sign documents using a smart phone touch screen and a keystroke.
Another example of the digital revolution is Sage and their ‘Point & Claim’ product. Clients can scan through their documents (via their mobile phone), and the accounting software can assemble the data into the appropriate spots to prepare financials and tax returns. Even ‘old school’ professionals can – eventually – master the process.