By Paul Bulpitt
Technology has completely transformed the accounting industry, making it more agile and highly connected than ever before.
While the UK’s economy is doing pretty well, when it comes to productivity, we’re second last in the G8.
However, mobile technology, cloud-based software and big data are combining to plug the productivity gap, helping small businesses and their advisors work smarter, not harder.
This was one of the key themes at Xerocon, the UK’s largest fintech conference, yesterday.
In the broader policy context, the Government’s desire to streamline HMRC and other departments and services by shifting to a digital services model is an example of institutions recognizing how critical real-time financial data is for business success.
HMRC’s Brigid McBride explained that Xero has been working closely with the department’s Government Digital Strategy (GDS) team to ensure its Roadmap, which will be rolled out over the next four years, will make the lives of small business owners simpler.
Part of the Government’s plan is to set up a new Digital Tax Account service which is designed to replace the current Self-Assessment tax return process currently undertaken every year by millions of individuals and business owners. It also means businesses, contractors and sole traders will be required to manage their taxes and accounts digitally by April 2018.
On day one of Xerocon 2016, more than 1,300 accounting professionals also heard from Charles Counsell, executive director at The Pensions Regulator who discussed some of the best ways accountants can prepare for the mountain of auto enrolment staging dates that are about to roll in.
One of the highlights of the day was hearing from Microsoft Chief Envisioning Officer, Dave Coplin, who explained that "data is the fuel of our future" which will completely change the way we work and interact.
However, given the majority of the UK’s 5.3 million businesses still use simplistic paper based methods or spreadsheets to keep their books, the challenge of migrating to a digital reporting world will not be trivial.
*Paul Bulpitt is head of accounting at Xero, a cloud accounting software global company.