Information became available to an accountant with the click of a mouse. This changed the nature of an accountant’s work. More doors were opening with the use of information technology. This diversified opportunities in the field of accounting. New specialized areas had developed. Business owners started looking to professional accountants for technology advice. Accountants became more knowledgeable about which financial systems worked best. Accountants were becoming the IT staff and trusted advisors. An accountant’s role was to help these businesses become more productive. Integrating the client’s technologies properly with the accountant’s systems made the practice more efficient when it came time for write-ups and reconciliation processes (“Searching for Technology,” 2009).
Input, Processing and Output
Not only does the client need to have proficient financial processes but the accountants themselves need software programs that keep track of clients accounting information with improved efficiency. Accountants work with systems programmers to develop a digital process that will organize their client’s history and all their documents. When the clients’ data is input into the computer program the processing cycle gives the computer instructions on how to process the clients’ data. This enables it to change the data into useful information. Output, transfers the processed information to the accountant (Laudon, et al, 2006, p.16). He/she can analyze the data and interpret the clients’ financial statements so as to increase the client’s success. All the clients’ records can be stored and organized on an accountant’s computer system. Rather then bringing a suitcase full of file folders to a client’s place of business for review, the documents can be carried on an encrypted laptop or organized on an encrypted portable storage device. The accountant has the client’s sensitive information protected but yet at his/her fingertips, ready to perform statistical, accounting or forecasting analysis. The program is stored on the computer hard drive and the data is used to prepare the clients’ taxes. The need for a file storage room has been eliminated (Torgerson, 2007).
To go a step further, cloud computing is becoming popular today. It is called cloud computing because the name represents the cloud symbol used in flow charts, representing the Internet.It is a service that is being provided over the internet to permanently store data and use business applications over a remote server. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a web based service. The data is permanently stored in huge data centers shared by many other users. The accountant would not have to purchase anything. He/she would pay a monthly subscription so he/she would only pay for what is needed (“What is Cloud,” n.d.). It would free up space on the accounting firm’s hard drive while the firm rents space from giant computer centers (Laudon, et al, 2006, p.180). However, the accountant should be aware of the security issues involved when making a decision to use this technology. Cloud service providers are obliged to provide a safe environment to store the organizations sensitive information as accountants are obliged to understand the risks.
Advancements of Information Technology
Accountants were pushed towards acquiring new skills due to the advancements that information technology has made on the accounting industry. Accountants now have to have a high level of computer and technical skills. These skills have become part of the knowledge, and abilities of the accounting professionals. In its report the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA) cities that, “The knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for the entry-level accountant now include the application and integration of information technology into the
accounting process, as well as financial and managerial accounting principles” (Dillon, Kruck, 2004). From this research, not only does an accountant need to have a broad range of accounting knowledge and a strong ability to apply accounting principles, government regulations and interpret tax laws; they must also have strong skills in information technology, to be able to merge accounting with information systems. These accountants will be in greater demand by the profession (Dillon, et al, 2004).