By Paul Bulpitt

While automation is completely transforming the global workforce, it’s especially having a profound effect on the service industry and, in particular, accounting.

Speaking at day 2 of Xerocon, our CMO, Andy Lark explained the shift towards automation will be dramatic and the level of upheaval that accountants and bookkeepers will experience shouldn’t be underestimated. According to Lark automation is "the only way you can work in the new world".

Embracing the move to working in the cloud and the prevalence of mobile technology is the way forward. Using data to drive decisions, optimising everything you do for mobile and gearing up to help the next generation of business owners are ways accountants and bookkeepers can start to build a sustainable practice.

Dealing with such rapid technological change won’t be easy, especially for small business owners. However, Founder of the Thought Expansion Network, Jonathan MacDonald explained that implementing the right tools will help small business owners and their advisors work smarter, not harder saying that if you unleash the purpose through the people, and into the product, in a process driven way, you win. "It unlocks innovation," he said.

Xero CEO Rod Drury also had something to say about the speed of growth. "We’re at the end of the beginning, the next phase of cloud accounting is upon us. As an industry, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in taking accounting online. It’s taken nearly ten years, thousands of people and one obsession with helping small businesses run better," he said.

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"Today, we’re deep in the cloud accounting adoption curve, and we’re now looking ahead. We’re now focused on what small businesses will need next to operate in our increasingly shrinking world."

Advanced machine learning practices and automation are starting to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the accounting industry, enabling advisors to concentrate on adding value to their small business customers. And as entrepreneur Dale Murray explained in her keynote, solid accounting advice helps build growth businesses. "I absolutely believe that accounting, finance and understanding the numbers is a discipline every business owner needs to get their heads around if they want to do something special."

Day two wrapped up an inspirational two days of discussion about what’s next for accountants, small businesses and the technology that serves them. With software only getting smarter, the competitive landscape is changing and the barriers to entry for many industries are disappearing – giving way to an exhilarating new age of business and accountancy.

Paul Bulpitt is head of accounting at Xero and co-founder of the Wow Company.

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