How Technology Has Changed Accounting Tasks
Asking if or how technology has changed the accounting industry is like asking how the invention of the internal combustion engine changed transportation. The changes have been dramatic, systematic and occurring at an exponential pace. Far from the days of Pacioli, the very first in recorded history to suggest a system of ledgers and journals to record debits and credits.
The embracement of technology has become absolutely necessary for the modern day accountant. No longer can an individual decide that he would prefer the traditional way of doing business as in the days of debating a calculator versus pencil and paper. The actual role of the accountant has not changed however. Understand where the money is coming in from and how much, and where it is going, and how much. Technology has without doubt made this process much easier. B efore technology existed it could take many hours and even days to input information by hand. And if the bottom line was somehow inconsistent with the supplied information then it could take even more hours and days to find the fateful error.
That changed in the late 70s with the advent of computerized spreadsheet programs which made entering and examining information a much less tedious and labor intensive task. Then technology went even further with programs like Visicalc that automatically updated cell values. The corner had been turned and things changed as quickly and as dramatically as the fortunes of every other industry affected by technology. The writing was on the wall. To survive you were forced to embrace the changes in the industry or be surpassed by those who had. The good news was that the masses still required the expertise of the professionals to understand exactly what the numbers all meant and where they belonged.
Again, with a rapidity that is staggering more changes were still to come. With the invention of programs like QuickBooks it became infinitely easier for the layman to attempt to try and keep track of their finances themselves. Now we have reached the stage where you no longer even need to input the information manually.
We have reached a technologically advanced age of simply scanning your items such as receipts and checks and the information is quickly assimilated into the system. So while technology has certainly made the task of accounting much easier, it should never replace the skills of the modern day accountant.
The technology should exist to assist the accountant, not replace them. Today’s accountant is no longer a functionary of mathematical process, yet rather a business consultant to today’s modern businessperson, relied on for the very expertise the industry demands. The extremely diverse, insanely fast paced and exceptionally confusing economic realities of today absolutely require the assistance of a professional no less than today’s modern automobiles require people with the expertise to repair them.