New technology, Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to empower accountants to work more efficiently. These tools have removed the manual entry burden while providing online databases to store, organize and interpret information. Accountants who pursue an online MBA with a specialization in accounting can
How Is the Accounting Industry Evolving?
Before computers, accountants were mathematicians whose bookkeeping skills (literally logging figures by hand into ledgers) were of paramount importance. Then computers made data entry and familiarity with computers requisite skills. The internet added the possibility of storing data online; now AI and other advances require that accountants adapt to new modes of data entry, storage and access. Still, the role of the accountant — to be a trusted steward of critical financial material — has not changed.
Today, the accounting profession is driven by:
- Cloud accounting. The cloud is a commonly used metaphor for the internet. Accountants use the cloud to store data on remote servers. Cloud accounting allows accountants to access information from any online device. Data can also be more easily shared.
- Automation. Automation has been in the American vernacular since the Industrial Revolution, but technologies like AI are accelerating the automation of many accounting services. Each day, algorithms grow more efficient at compiling Big Data, although humans are needed to interpret much of that information.
- Artificial intelligence. AI refers to the ability of software to perform problem-solving tasks that were previously completed by people. AI is key to data being automatically updated without human intervention.
On the Horizon
Many small businesses are turning to software programs such as Quicken and Quickbooks — available for purchase or for rent through the cloud — to automatically account for expenses and income. These tools can be linked to banks via the internet. Accountants can compile and print financial statements and other forms from these programs. Software printouts that have not been checked by a qualified accountant are not acceptable for audits or other important documents though.
A growing number of companies expect accountants to give financial advice in addition to their accounting duties. Initially, these roles were the purview of wealth management advisers. Individuals intending to enter the accounting profession would benefit from some level of training in financial advising.
Traditional pay models are changing, especially among large firms that seek top talent. To help recruit, many companies are offering salaries or value-based pay structures in lieu of hourly rates.
Data breaches continue to be a top concern for many companies. While large firms often have their own cybersecurity personnel, accountants are increasingly expected to have a basic understanding of how to prevent data theft.
How Can an MBA Help Accountants Keep Up?
PSU's online MBA in accounting is the perfect match for business professionals who are ready to expand their knowledge and take on a financial leadership role. Topics covered through the fully online program include management control systems, quantitative business analysis, financial statement analysis and auditing.
Each course is taught by PSU faculty who bring a real-world understanding of accounting to your learning experience. If you are ready to meet tomorrow's accounting challenges, the next step just might be applying — online, of course.
Learn more about Pittsburg State University's online MBA in Accounting program.
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