We talk a lot about choosing cloud accounting over the traditional system, a centralised accounting process, SMB accounting in the clouds, and so on. And all these are important things to look into. But there is a bigger picture to consider as well when choosing cloud accounting solutions, and that is business trends. Each of these trends is important to help you do your job. Moreover, it will contour the edge you get in the near future when these trends become the measure for accounting software.
- Utilises Machine Learning (ML)
Machine Learning is when YouTube knows what songs to suggest to you based on your previous song selections. Basically it’s the software’s ability to adapt its internal algorithm to improve performance by predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed. It uses statistical analytics to predict an output within an acceptable range.
With accounting software this translates as ML automatically sorting your billing statements, suggesting repetitive data placements, recommending account codes etc. The more you use your software, accepting and rejecting the suggestions it makes, the more intelligent it becomes to suggest multi-step work-flow automations, instead of you receiving recommendations and sorting information. The quantifiable and axiomatic advantage is that better reporting leads to better decision-making.
- Translation of ML into AI (artificial intelligence)
No, AI is not the same as ML. ML will use intelligence to better performance by making suggestions to improve efficacy. AI is autonomous in that it works independent of human supervision and carries out tasks on its own. So ML would be Facebook knowing who to recommend to you as friend suggestions (and, turns out, you usually know this person). AI is your robot baking you moussaka while you watch TV with your feet propped up on the living room table.
In accounting terms this translates into you trusting the software to input data without you overseeing it. The reason SMB accounting benefits from this is because AI automates mundane and ritual tasks, thus speeding up the process markedly (to say nothing of the elimination of human error and accuracy derived thereof). Inputting expenses, auditing them, automatic risk assessments for loans – there is never a dearth of routine tasks to be automated. In the future, you can expect AI to come to users who don’t speak the language of accountancy to gain insight from the system.
- Comparable extendibility of your software (aka) Integrations and Extensions
Cloud-based software users will empathise with the need to pull, cross-link or tie-up data sets across systems for workflows, without requiring in-depth technological experience. For instance, CRM and marketing automation use separate software, but the data therein are relevant to both users. Elasticity of the software in terms of it being extendable, adaptable or easy to integrate, are mandates. They allow users the flexibility to implement solutions where internal needs are keenly felt, but without having to employ convoluted or exorbitant measures.
When choosing accounting software, look for tools that can firstly bring together dissimilar elements, and that can further let you automate complex workflows across multiple systems even with your limited technological background. This means that when a new transaction is logged into the system, the workflow ensures an invoice is created in one application, a notification is posted in the other, a row of data gets created in the next, an e-mail gets sent to concerned co-workers, and the payment gets scheduled.
So apart from understanding routine accounting solutions, the best app will anticipate company-wide business processes, connecting richer data sets to deeper insights!
So take care to pay attention to these business trends while contemplating what software you could choose for your SMB accounting.