The rate at which technology advances the way we live and operate, grows exponentially each year. From a technological perspective, our lives and jobs will change more over the next 20 years than they did over the course of our grandparents’ entire lifetime. Despite being as old-school as it gets in some ways, the tax process is not immune from this transformation. Ben Franklin may have been right that taxes are a certainty, but the modern way to manage taxes is still evolving. If you want to provide the best possible tax service to your clients, you have to be willing to embrace the tax revolution.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, uses the term Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to describe the ways in which advanced technologies are changing the way we do business. “In the new world,” Schwab says, “it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.” Understanding how to be adaptive, responsive, and above all fast, then, stands to be one of the most valuable assets an accounting firm can have in the coming years.
We are still beginning to explore how the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will affect accounting as a profession. Applications are being developed and efficiencies improved, but the foundational technologies of the period include AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, 3D-printing, quantum computing and more. Each of these, with the possible exception of 3D-printing, will change the way firms work internally, as well as client-facing.
Rather than speculate on particular innovations which may result from explorations with 4IR technology, the wisest thing you can do is familiarize yourself with the concepts of emerging technologies and begin thinking about them in terms of value. If AI has the potential to automate the vast majority of data entry, what will you do with the extra time? How will you use it to increase the value you provide for each client? If you can begin to answer these questions, you’ll be poised to flourish in a new tax era.
What won’t change
As comprehensive as technological change is to our profession, there are some eternal characteristics that will serve you well no matter how big, strong, and smart the robots get. Computing power and computational accuracy can’t replace 1:1 insights. Clients are always going to want to work with people who can serve as trusted advisors for their business.
With the ability to deliver compliance services growing ever easier, the value of advisory services trends in the other direction. Firms who excel in this area stand to gain prestige, accolades, and most of all, customers. In other words, you need to be just as mindful of what tech can’t do as you are of what it can.
How SafeSend Returns is helping to shape the future of Tax
If you use SafeSend Returns, you’re already a firm thinking about the future. As the revolutionary solution for assembling and delivering tax returns digitally, SafeSend Returns understands the value of agility in the modern workplace. Clients shouldn’t have to be tied to their desk with a pen in hand in order to sign their tax return, and Accountants shouldn’t have the timely paper assembly anymore. With SafeSend Returns they don’t!
It’s all about understanding how tech can improve the tax process, client experience, and your firm. Technology, at its core, should be about making our lives simpler, not more complex. It’s impossible to say what exactly the tax revolution will look like, but we’re very happy to be on the frontline of it. Let us help you bring your firm into the future.