The Internet of Things sounds like a bit of IT marketing hype but it seems to be the only way to get a handle on where all the tentacles of total interconnectivity are going. It’s an exciting, 3D picture with no limits. But we’re stuck with the ‘IoT’ just to give us some terminology!
So what’s it got to do with the accounting profession? Everything. Because from the moment you switch on your device in the morning, you’re part of it.
Putting you in the picture
According to the Gartner Forecast: The Internet of Things, Worldwide, 2013, by 2020, the Internet of Things will include 26 billion connected devices, including an estimated 7.3 billion smartphones, tablets and PCs – that’ll be one for every person on the planet. IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding US$300 billion, mostly in services. It will result in US$1.9 trillion in global economic value-add through sales into diverse end markets.
The deepening of the connectivity can be seen in the simplest of examples: At 6am your smartphone receives an email saying your 8am meeting has been postponed by 30 minutes. That email triggers your smart clock to change your wake up to give you a bit more sleep.
The impact of the IoT on accounting
The pace of change is astonishing, yet at its core IoT is quite simple, it’s the idea that all of our devices and things being connected. As a profession and industry the Accounting world and our clients are still coming to terms with how to work with the myriad of SME focused online accounting packages and now it’s not even just about cloud anymore as the IoT takes over.
Driving all of this, now more than ever, we have an ability to truly seeing our client’s though data connectivity. We’re seeing the introduction of free, tie-in accounting services from our local retail banks; low monthly fee offerings from global accounting platforms; and the development of cloud ecosystem providers for accounting, payroll, human resources, and order and inventory management processes. All of which are packets of data that once pooled together empower an accountant to identify a correct treatment, process, income stream, or piece of advice that matters most to their clients business.
For many SMEs with the advent of cloud accounting, they can see a clear return on paying for advice that doesn’t just mark compliance time but helps them shape their business for the future. With the influx of cloud-based accounting platforms – whether they primarily are used for bookkeeping or more strategic financial purposes, there is now no reason why SMEs should not be operating with an appropriate level of proactive, sophisticated advice – the same cost and tax-optimisation intelligence that’s been giving their larger counterparts an unfair advantage for too long.
Moving forward as a profession there has been no more relevant a time than now to ensure we are able to educate and advise our clients. With data connectivity and the IoT the impact on Accounting firms is twofold, by providing new insights using meaningful data, not only will you drive profitable growth for your clients but also provide substantial value for your practice.
For accountants, and providers in all professions, all this will mean finding new ways to be part of the new service-driven world. A world that is connected, fuelled by intelligent systems and empowering.
This article was originally published in a the 2015 CPA Australia In Practice Magazine