It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Anybody else remember that commercial? If you’re a parent, you know what Staples was talking about. It’s August. Summer is coming to an end. You’re shopping for new clothes, shoes, and supplies, and you’re counting the days until your kids get on that bus and go back to school.
As important as this time of year is for your kids – meeting new teachers, reuniting with friends they haven’t seen since June, getting back into “learning” mode – it’s just as important that you take the time to reevaluate yourself and your business. As tax professionals, we should constantly be in learning mode. Constantly growing and developing our skills; constantly researching and learning about how things are changing in our field so that we don’t become outdated, or worse, irrelevant. The truth is, we live in a technological world. And if you don’t get on board, you’re missing out on a ton of potential business.
To help, we’ve put together 5 technology trends you need to be aware of:
- Cybersecurity. The cornerstone of our profession is trust. Clients need to know that when you say something is secure, you mean it. They want to know that their information is protected. According to HP, about 70% of internet connected devices are vulnerable to hacking. That means that your info, and your clients’ info, could be at risk. The good news is, cybersecurity systems are becoming more adaptive and predictive, meaning that we will soon have the technology at our fingertips to allow us to predict and prevent many attacks, stopping them before they start.
- Data availability. By the end of 2017, it is expected that there will be more than 20 billion smart devices (including thermostats, appliances, cameras, and fitness trackers) connected to the internet. That is double the number from 2013. This means that the amount of data we have at our fingertips (and sometimes in our back pocket) is growing exponentially. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that your clients have access to every internet tax advice site out there, and we all know how much trouble that can get them into. It’s important to establish yourself as the source of any and all tax advice your clients need. Trust us, this will save you a ton of time, money, and headache in the future.
- Cloud Services. Everything is moving toward the cloud. And unfortunately, it’s one of those things that a lot of professionals (especially those who are not millennials) are pretty weary of. Using a cloud service can increase your computing capacity while also cutting costs but it’s important to weigh the good against the bad. Not all clouds are created equal. They don’t all have adequate security in place, putting your data at risk. Be sure and do your research and find the right service for your specific needs.
- Blockchains. Originally designed to transfer bitcoins, blockchains are now being use in other areas as well. Along with currency, they can now be used to transfer insurance policies and real estate titles, contracts and other sensitive information. They are relatively low cost and high security, making their impact and growth virtually limitless.
- Mobile Apps. It is now possible to shop, respond to emails, check your bank account, track your business mileage, check in for a flight, watch movies or tv shows, even scan and email documents… All from that phone in your back pocket! And this technology shows no sign of slowing down. Look out for new, more secure ways to send electronic documents and be sure and stay ahead of the game. It might be time to do some research and create a list of go-to apps that you can recommend to clients (or even consider working with a developer to create your own if you find a hole in that market).
Technology isn’t going away. We know it can seem overwhelming, or even downright terrifying. But if you’re still fighting against technology, you’re fighting a losing battle. The back to school season is a great time to take that jump and begin to learn more about the direction things are moving.