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Technology advocates forecast that the
latest era will be based on cloud comput-
ing – the provision of products and ser vices
through a shared distribution network.
“Cloud accounting is absolutely turning the
industry on its head,” says Drury at Xero.
“It’s the third generation of technology.”
Cloud platforms are changing how com-
panies store and allocate data and has led
to another rising trend – software-as -a -ser-
vice, known as SaaS, in which enterprises
rent software applications and ser ver space
from providers to save on upfront costs.
Westland says small- and medium-sized
practitioners in particular should be leverag-
ing the power of technology. “Optical charac-
ter recognition, pattern recognition, statisti-
cal, business analytics and data manipulation
tools now exist that allow small firms to be as
effective as the Big Four in all but the largest
of corporate operations,” he says.
“Auditing is no longer a profession that
needs to throw masses of junior auditors at
an audit. It can be effectively – and perhaps
more effectively – undertaken by small, in-
terlinked teams of specialists under the su-
per vision of an audit manager.”
What the future holds
Technology professionals predict further
advances. Clarke at Flexsystem, for exam-
ple, foresees faster processors, more band-
width and increased compression as drivers
of accounting technology.
“Social networking in a controlled en-
vironment will be the norm and will allow
for a new level of quicker problem-solving
across operating entities,” he adds.
Meanwhile, cloud computing will con-
tinue to evolve, he says. “It will be knocking
down geographic boundaries and allow-
ing, for example, heightened levels of cor-
porate governance through the ability for
checks and balances to be initiated across
Technology providers continue to stress
cost savings from the cloud. “By consolidat-
ing ser vers from various locations in a tra-
ditional IT env ironment, accounting firms
can regain tighter control and monitor their
IT expenditure, and align IT expenses with
business growth to maximize utilization of
limited resources,” says Derek Yiu, general
manager of business solutions and ser vices
at Fujitsu Hong Kong, which sells scanners
and data storage to CPA firms.
However, accounting remains a conser-
vative profession and there is
still some resistance to tech-
CPA firms [in the U.S.] are still mired in the
mostly manual audit methods that were
used 30 years ago when archival records
were maintained on paper,” Westland
One barrier to change is often that CPAs
become too bogged down in daily opera-
tional details. “They won’t make the change
that will free up their time,” says Clarke,
adding that the global financial crisis ex-
acerbated this issue, given the increasing
However, as younger recruits embrace
technology, barriers are likely to fall away.
“Like most international accounting firms,
we recruit university graduates and those
from a younger generation are much more
receptive to new technology than, say, peo-
ple like me,” Wong at PwC acknowledges.
Vendors are already seeing change.
“ We find CPAs tech-savvy,” says Drury at
Xero. “They already know document man-
agement – they’re already on Dropbox and
Google Docs. Often a young partner is a
technology evangelist educating the rest of
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