As the 2020s approach, it is time for the profession to look to the coming developments for accounting software and technology over the next 10 years. Here are this author’s 10 predictions for trends in the upcoming decade.
1. No More In-house Servers
The 2010s saw the growth of cloud computing, but many enterprises still have in-house servers. By 2030, no one will have an in-house server anymore, and most likely all major software programs will be completely SaaS (software as a service)-based.
2. Tax Software Will Finally Migrate to the Cloud
Tax preparation software is the last major software for accountants that is not fully cloud based. Over the last few years, some small players, such as Intuit Tax Online and Canopy, have released fully cloud-based products, but the major players, Thomson and CCH, have not yet made that leap. But it is inevitable that either they or a secondary player will do so, because the move is much needed, and the market will respond accordingly.
3. Macs Will Replace PCs as the Go-to Desktop
This one is pretty bold, but once the move to a completely cloud-based environment is complete, firms are going to switch to Macs. They are more secure and easier to maintain, and most importantly, young CPAs prefer them to PCs.
4. Phones Will Disappear
Many companies are already moving to digital phone numbers, but over the next decade, the profession will move away from hardline phones completely, and everyone will make calls from their computers or their cell phones.
5. Interconnectivity of Applications Will Become Easier
Right now, many CPA firms use a single provider for all of their applications. Firms will, however, move towards a best-of-breed model, especially as cloud products become easier to integrate with each other with open application programming interfaces.
6. In-house Programmers
As CPA firms use more and more products, they will increasingly hire in-house computer programmers to help interconnect and customize their applications
7. Tax Return Input Will Become More Automated
Some current software allows automatic importation of W-2s and some brokerage information. All of this will soon become more interconnected, so that all CPAs will have to do is link a taxpayer’s Social Security number with his different accounts to pull the data in automatically.
8. Bookkeeping Automation
There has been a lot of talk about bookkeeping automation the past few years. By the end of the next decade, between 95% and 100% of all transactions will be codeable by computers automatically, including complex types of transactions like payroll, loans, and multicurrency.
9. Biometric Passwords
Current alphanumeric passwords will be replaced by bio-metric passwords, which are generally more secure and less hackable.
10. The Workspace Revolution
As CPA firms continue to move to the cloud, more and more tax professionals will work from home, and offices will change to more meeting-based workspaces with fewer cubicles. Most people will not come into the office regularly and will only come in for particular meetings, if ever. Offices will become gathering spaces to “hang out” with coworkers and spend social time with them.
The World to Come
Of course, only time will tell whether these predictions are accurate. But the rapid pace of technology all but ensures that the accounting profession of 2030 will look very different from that of 2019.