Cloud tools have helped businesses survive during the pandemic. In fact, one in four SMEs invested in new cloud-based technologies to run their businesses according to Xero research. Organisations are no longer questioning whether to digitise; instead, they are focusing on how fast they embrace opportunities and remain relevant to their customers, writes Mike Day, head of learning at Xero
The days of server rooms and on-premise desktop software are becoming things of the past, as cloud tools help to make smarter, data-driven decisions in real time from any location.
For accountants, digital is the future. Those using cloud-based software have been able to continue to work from anywhere and collaborate with clients during the pandemic – while those that have not have struggled to stay connected. Digital has now become a fundamental aspect of employment in many sectors, and improving and innovating using technology is now crucial to the success of an accountancy firm.
Small businesses are also increasingly looking to their accountants to support them with digitisation, so it is important that it sits at the heart of your strategy.
Education is vital in order to ensure you and your practice understand and can take advantage of the latest digital and cloud tools.
The demand for this kind of skill has never been higher, and at Xero we offer free courses to accountants to help with this transition, regardless of whether they are customers or not. Today, the Xero partner network encompasses thousands of UK accounting and bookkeeping practices who put digital at the forefront of their offering.
ACCA and ICAEW create a number of digital skills packages for university syllabuses, and at Xero we are dedicated to ensuring we help to play a role here. Inclusive accreditations like the Xero advisor certification demonstrate the importance of cloud technology knowledge in the future of accountancy. More than 18,000 accountants have already taken advantage of this free certification, and over 900 Xero Cert students have already either become a Xero partner, become a subscriber or have been employed as a result.
As well as formal qualifications, accountants have the option of alternative methods to support cloud-based education and career development, such as online courses, YouTube tutorials and even online networks such as LinkedIn.
Accounting firms who are using cloud-based digital processes have been able to offer far greater scalability and resilience.
A recent global survey of over 1,100 accounting professionals in 18 countries showed that practices that use cloud technologies, embrace change and stay connected to their clients are those that are more likely to succeed.
According to ACCA, accounting professionals, practices and finance functions able to use technology well to maintain operations and adapt business models by fast-tracking digital transformation will be more secure and more competitive.
In addition, as clients start to instigate digital transformation, they will rely heavily on their accountants to support and consolidate the new systems and software. Therefore, accounting firms will need to upskill staff and increase capacity accordingly to stay competent and qualified with the right skills.
Digital transformation can be daunting, but whether you feel as though your digital skills are lacking, or you want to improve on what you already know, digital education can future-proof your business.
It is now key to combine strong digital and financial knowledge, with curious minds and a range of soft skills. As the landscape transforms through technology, accountants will be relied on as trusted advisers to customers and business partners to stakeholders, managers and colleagues. Those that embrace this transformation will be better placed to help their clients past the current crisis and to thrive beyond.
Covid-19 has been hugely challenging for many; however, it has also been a catalyst for extraordinary change. Technology is driving the accounting industry forward at a great pace. Accountants and bookkeepers are in greater demand than ever before, and this will only amplify in the coming months as businesses reset, recover and rebuild.
For more free information about the Xero Certification, visit https://www.xero.com/uk/training/certification-equivalent-courses. Go to Create Xero Login and choose any of the awarding bodies as your organisation.