BUSINESS GROWTH: How to make best use of real-time digital analytical tools

Source: Mint Images/Photoshot

Sage vice president Jennifer Warawa sets the scene for a new kind of accountancy

This article has been produced in partnership with Sage

According to the World Economic Forum, we are now experiencing the fourth industrial revolution.

The digital age has simplified and improved our ability to respond when critical business decisions are needed, building on unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and unlimited access to information.

Harnessing this has allowed us to make significant breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things. The common thread running through all of these innovations is their reliance on real-time data. Without the ability to analyse vast amounts of information in an instant, the visionary technologies that are likely to shape our future would remain ideas on a page.

Real-time data for real-world issues

As new ways of distributing analytics are used, immediate insights and recommendations are being extended to many more areas of
business and finance, accountancy being one. In this new world, changes in conditions happen too quickly for businesses to rely on out of date information. Key decisions have to be made based on real-time data, both to build strategy and manage day-to-day operations.

New expectations

As businesses are transitioning to cloud-based real-time accounting, accountants have to be able to make the journey with them. They need to provide the infrastructure that helps their clients to stay competitive and improve market standing. Businesses aren’t going to look to their accountants to collate and
analyse information any longer - technology can already tick that box. Businesses are going to want advice on what to do next and will seek out accountants who can offer proactive services that add value to their business.

Historically, accountancy has been a batch-oriented process in which the figures are collated at the end of each period, before being verified and collated into summary reports. But now, with so much data being generated and gathered, it’s important accountants can make sense of it quickly.

One way is by using data dashboards, a key component of modern accountancy software designed to cut through the informational fog, providing instant snapshots of what’s happening. The more advanced solutions on the market can break this down by department or even role within the business, to provide real-time actionable insight that builds understanding of what’s happening, and allows you to take action to affect the outcome.

The always-on accountant

The real-time revolution will also change where and when clients expect their accountant to be available. Accountants will need to be even more flexible and able to work from anywhere at a moment’s notice, just like the businesses they serve. With access to real-time data, accountants will need to be on hand to provide ‘on-the-spot’ real-time advice and insights.

Information synchronisation

Gone are the days of juggling multiple spreadsheets. Simply put, real-time data is making business more efficient and more collaborative,
while reducing the risk of errors and allowing decisions to be made much more accurately. This will transform the role of the accountant. In the next five years, the majority of what accountants do today will be automated. Things like data-entry, auditing payroll, management reporting, and annual tax return submissions. Accountants will need to fight the fight in real-time, providing valuable insight that helps to drive their clients businesses forward. Sounds a lot more rewarding, doesn’t it?

To find out how UK business owners are taking charge of their finances, download our new, free ebook: The 6 Stages of Smarter Money Management.

What is a payment gateway and how can I get one?

The main job of a payment gateway is to validate your customer’s credit card details securely, make sure the funds are available for the payment and get you paid.

A payment gateway is the service that authorises credit card payments for online and offline businesses. It is the equivalent of a physical point of sale terminal in a shop or restaurant. It lets your customer submit their credit card details and then securely passes this sensitive financial information from the customer to the merchant and then between the merchant and the bank. The payment gateway then tells you whether the charge has been approved by the cardholder’s bank and submits your charges for settlement.

Settlement is where the payment amount is deducted from your customer’s credit card account and deposited into your
merchant account. To set up a payment gateway account, most providers will require you to have a UK bank account, a good business plan with soundfinancial projections and of course a website, if you are trading online. Visit: CardPayGo.com/apply

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