Small business accountants are becoming more tech savvy. So are the clients they serve. It’s not a perfect transition, but it’s happening. What’s next?
As technology solutions have become a must-have instead of a nice-to-have, more small to medium-sized accounting firms and businesses are utilizing the cleverly named SMAC system to drive business innovation and solve real-world problems.
At ForwardAI, we’re all about solving real-world problems, like cash flow. Here’s what we found out about the buzz everyone is feeling from SMAC.
Table of Contents
What is SMAC?
SMAC stands for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud technologies that help a business make the leap into the digital age. They are the building blocks of the internet of things (IoT) where technology has shifted from machines to the humans that use them.
Social is just what you expected, all the main social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and SnapChat, along with the constant stream of newcomers.
The social media universe is a place where you can interact with customers and ‘listen in’ on what people are saying about your business and your competitors. A skillful use of social media can engage customers, build brand awareness and drive sales. A tone-deaf approach can have the opposite effect.
Mobile consists of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, like restaurant and retail point-of-sale (POS) systems. While phones and tablets help you access information from almost anywhere, they can also gather information through tools, like receipt scanners using optical character recognition (OCR) technology.
By its nature, all this technology and technological integration create more data. The challenge and value come from turning this data into usable information. Think QuickBooks Online (QBO) and the business financial data collected from standard business transaction and other integrated applications. Then there are apps like ForwardAI that connect to QBO and provide powerful cash flow and financial analytics.
The cloud is the glue that connects social, mobile and analytics. The mythical cloud hosts most of these online and mobile tools. It’s also the main conduit for sharing information between these technologies. QuickBooks Online is hosted in the cloud and so are the applications (apps) in its ever-growing ecosystem.
Why you should be doing SMAC
Longing for the days of the abacus? Your tribe is probably a very lonely place because tech is firmly embedded in the future of accounting. In fact, 80% of the highest performing accounting firms say adding value to existing clients is the most effective way to drive growth. Now that you know what SMAC is, here are a few ways you can apply it.
A majority, 96% of small businesses use social media as part of their marketing efforts. According to Intuit’s Firm of the Future thought leaders, social is quickly becoming a vital sales and branding tool for accountants and bookkeepers.
Don’t overlook the importance of mobile
It’s no wonder there’s a growing number of accounting apps for smartphones, such as time tracking, scheduling, expense and mileage tools, just to name a few. Knowing which apps to suggest small business clients helps accountants fulfill their roles as advocates and fintech experts.
You can’t escape the cloud
In 2016, Intuit stated that there was a 41% increase in subscribers for cloud-based accounting software. The trend is pretty hard to overlook. One of the reasons that many small businesses (41%) are choosing cloud accounting software is for the increased functionality.
The cloud not only increases access to information — from almost anywhere and any device — it also changes the way people connect. Face-to-face meetings are no longer a prerequisite to delivering value. Especially when you can have all the information you need lined up and ready to share via e-conference or e-mail.
Another benefit, when you combine cloud computing with automation, you eliminate a lot of the time-consuming manual tasks that once kept you from offering further analysis and insights.
Add value with analytics
By 2020, 1.7 MB of data will be produced every second for every living person. For small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), structured data, like entries in accounting software, only represent 20% of all data. The other 80% of the information, generated by smart devices and other technology, is considered big data or unstructured data.
However, even the term “structured data” is somewhat misleading as it still requires a sophisticated use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to provide meaningful analysis. As evidenced by the sheer number of analytics apps on display QuickBooks Connect 2018 in San Jose. It’s also why ForwardAI was named a Small Business App Showdown Finalists for its cash flow analytics.
Put an end to cash flow problems
For such an essential business concept, cash flow monitoring and forecasting can actually be a significant challenge for small businesses.
ForwardAI thinks it shouldn’t be this way, which is why we developed our cutting-edge cash flow projection and analysis tools. Our performance insights also provide a 360° view of financial health.
Getting started is as simple as creating a ForwardAI account and connecting a business’ QuickBooks Online account. Once that happens, our application takes this financial data and begins is assessments using hundreds of data points. Then all you have to do is click on the dashboard button to view a wealth of insightful charts and graphs that help make sense of cash flow and financial health.
The information in this article is not financial advice. This content is general while every financial situation is unique. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional.
Stock image via Pexels. Infographic via Domo — Data Never Sleeps 6.0 (Email required for report download.)