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SMEs Like Speed, Dislike Robots For Accounting

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Automation has enabled the acceleration of key business processes, and that includes the accounting function. But a new report from business SaaS company Exact finds conflicting feelings among SMEs when it comes to their accounting needs.

Reports Monday (Feb. 6) said small businesses consider accountancy speed to be their top priority, and that has led accountants to introduce automated technologies into their services.

According to the survey, more than a third of accountants said IT and software knowledge is the number one area in which their profession must improve, followed by core accounting knowledge and communication skills. More than two-thirds of accountants said better integration of admin software is also a top focus, and 62 percent said replacing paper forms with online ones is also a key priority.

Automation in SME accounting is on the rise, with a 5 percent decline in the use of “spreadsheet accounting,” down to 20 percent compared to 25 percent in 2015, researchers found. The report also found a 6 percent year-over-year increase in the number of SMEs that enter their accounting data online.

Digitization and automation are both on the rise when it comes to accountants that serve small and medium-sized enterprises, but that doesn’t mean SMEs don’t want the human touch. According to Exact, only 10 percent of small businesses said they would trust a robot to do their accounting.

“Rising demand for information ‘now’ combined with advances in new technology mean that accounting is increasingly seen as a commodity,” said Gavin Fell, Exact general manager, in reflecting on the survey’s findings. “Accountants that can keep the pace providing real-time and in-depth business insights for clients have the best chance.”

The U.K. now has the second-highest penetration of online business admin solutions for accountants in Europe at 45 percent, surpassed by the Netherlands’ 60 percent, the report added.

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