Last week we had the opportunity to lead a think tank session on the future of accounting at the Intuit Summit. This event was hosted by Intuit and attended by about 40 leading accounting profession practitioners, industry analysts and media.
The session was part of a broader research project we're conducting with Intuit updating the Future of the Accounting Profession study that was released in early 2011.
The think tank was designed to gather input and feedback from this group of industry experts on the major trends and shifts impacting the accounting profession. The picture below shows part of the graphic recording of our session on demographics.
One of the most interesting discussions was around outsourcing. Our 2011 forecast report covered outsourcing, but positioned it mostly as a threat to the accounting industry. Key quote:
Many services currently provided by accounting professionals will become less profitable and even disappear due to competition, automation and outsourcing.
The group agreed outsourcing was a threat. But they felt it was an even bigger opportunity.
According to these industry players, small businesses have started to outsource much or all of their financial and bookkeeping operations - creating opportunities for accounting firms to provide these services.
The group reported this was a different business than their traditional services and required different business models and skills. But they also reported that, if done properly, it added value to their clients and profitability to the accounting firm's bottom line.
We found this both interesting and important. As we reported when we released the Future of the Accounting Profession study in 2011, the future of accounting = the future of work.
The accounting profession is facing the same transformational forces impacting knowledge work in general. Because of this, the accounting industry provides an excellent case study on the future of knowledge work.
We'd use the old line about the Chinese character for "crisis" being made up of the characters for danger and opportunity, but we learned living and working in Asia this is myth. But despite the Chinese character story not being true, the duality of danger and opportunity in trends is often the case.
We'll be covering more on the think tank and the future of accounting in the near future.