Every year, Wolters Kluwer sponsors a survey of accounting firms to measure the pulse of the profession. This year’s survey looked at several technology trends and how they’ve developed over the last few years. Comparing technology adoption over just this small time span provided important insights into how these fast-changing trends are rapidly coming into the mainstream.
The benefits of looking ahead
The most striking finding of the survey was that forward-looking firms outperform other firms in revenue and profitability. We first reported on this technology trend in 2013, but it remains relevant in 2017. Firms that consider themselves technology pioneers and early adopters were 12% more likely to have experienced revenue growth last year. And they were 13% more likely to report profit growth than mainstream and late-adopting firms.
So, what types of technology are forward-looking firms using? Tax compliance, tax return automation and document management software all made the top 5 list of already-adopted technology. Looking ahead, the software most likely to be implemented next included project management, client portals and tax workflow software.
The growing influence of the cloud
One technology trend that’s not going away is the move to the cloud. While only slightly more firms reported being in the cloud this year compared to two years ago, these firms have experienced huge revenue advantages over firms that are not planning to move to the cloud. Of the firms that had implemented cloud-based solutions, 62% reported greater than 5% revenue increases, compared with just 39% of firms that are not planning to implement cloud solutions.
The benefits of moving to the cloud have remained consistent from 2013 to 2017. The top benefits identified are remote work opportunities, the ability to serve clients in any geographic location, and improved security.
Integration improves efficiency
The last technology trend affecting firms is integration. Although more firms report using integrated solutions, only about 40% of firms say that their software is more than 50% integrated. It’s clear from the survey, though, that these integrated firms achieve higher revenue and higher profits, with less-integrated firms lagging well behind.
Specifically, the survey found, firms that use integrated document management, portal and workflow solutions have seen the biggest increases in profits and revenue. These firms out-performed non-integrated firms with 15% more reporting increased revenue, and 16% more reporting increased profits.
Future-ready firms will use cloud-based technology to stay efficient and competitive. For more reasons to move to the cloud, download “The New Firm Transformation: Technology, Growth and the Future.“