The Next Frontier in Accounting Technology
Nov. 17, 2016
9:40 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Nearly five years ago, when the accounting industry began shifting from all-in-one solutions to more cloud-based software, Doug Sleeter coined a term that seemed to aptly define the transformation that would ensue. The "chunkification," he said, was on.
General interest software. Time tracking software. Inventory software. Ecommerce software. Here, there and everywhere you look, technological innovations in how accounting professions do their jobs continue to redefine the marketplace. And if you ask Sleeter, one of the industry’s foremost thought leaders and founder of the Sleeter Group, he'll tell you straight up that the techno vibe is just beginning.
"I have predicted that it's a pendulum, that we're going to be swinging back toward all-in-one solutions, but not completely the way it was, which was all desktop software running on Windows," Sleeter says. "Now it's cloud software, and these chunks in the cloud can directly communicate with each other behind the scenes 24/7. Today, the industry's new challenge is all about the integration happening between the chunks.”
In his upcoming presentation at Accountex USA, "The Next Frontier in Accounting Technology,” Sleeter will take an inside look at the technological trends shaping the marketplace. The conference, which attracts key industry experts and thought leaders from across the world, as well as a slate of innovative vendors, takes place Nov. 15-18, 2016, at the Mirage in Las Vegas. To register for the show, click here.
“We have to look at what's going on with our customers, find the technological solutions that are available, and then employ those solutions and technologies to help our customers better than we did before.”
Sleeter wants you to think of the process as if you were putting a bunch of LEGOs together in the cloud. There still are chunks, but they appear to be used as an all-in-one system. That's where he sees things heading next.
And here’s the thing, wherever the industry goes, the disruption will continue, so get ready. “The fact is that no matter where you are in the lifecycle, things change,” Sleeter says. “Every day we eat and breathe and change. Our customers are changing, too. But agility trumps ability. We have to look at what's going on with our customers, find the technological solutions that are available, and then employ those solutions and technologies to help our customers better than we did before.”
Renovate or die. That is name of the game today. And while the term disruption sounds bad, Sleeter says it just means you have to rethink your next move. “You have to keep breathing, keep innovating and keep disrupting yourself,” he says. “Otherwise, somebody else will.”
A New Way of Thinking
When he reflects on the first round of disruption to hit the accounting industry, Sleeter recalls that “aha” moment many vendors had. While everybody “ate it up” at first, he says there was an adjustment period for embracing partnerships with third parties that could help integrate everything together.
He compares it to his days working in the computer industry in the 1980s, when the printing and publishing businesses were completely revolutionized by the Adobe’s Postscript software. Postscript was the breakthrough technology that allowed typography (fonts) to be converted from metal type to digital lines and curves in a computer language. Postscript transformed printers into computers that computed the images on pages and that single innovation transformed the entire publishing industry.
“At first, many people were not real happy about the move to digital publishing, because they had to learn all those new tools and stop using their hands manually to lay out pages,” Sleeter says. “But there’s no way they would ever go back to the way things were.”
“Not everyone is embracing technology, and they have to. If you resist, you’re not taking your next breath of air. And you must breathe.”
It’s the same in the accounting industry. “Not everyone is embracing technology, and they have to,” Sleeter says. “If you resist, you’re not taking your next breath. And you must breathe.”
During his Accountex USA presentation, Sleeter will take a close look at the next wave of accounting technology, which includes innovations such as Bitcoin and blockchain technology, a distributed database that serves as a public, digital ledger for transactions. Bitcoin provides a digital ledger that records every bitcoin transaction that has ever occurred. It is protected by cryptography so powerful that breaking it typically is dismissed as "impossible."
“I believe that blockchain will do for global commerce what Adobe did for publishing,” Sleeter says. “It's a distributed global database, which means there's thousands of computers all over the world that have a copy of it. Disinterested parties own it. No government. No banks. Nobody is in control, per se. It’s open source software run by thousands of computers, and the people who own them, whose job is to guard the security and validity of the data in the database.”
The blockchain is another link in the “chunkification” of the ever-evolving accounting landscape. “I am just trying to connect back with the audience to let them know that as the founder of this leader group, I see Accountex has the place where all the players can be in one location at once. That was really my vision from the beginning, and Accountex is expanding on it. All of the vendors will be there, and accountants can judge for themselves which ones are good for which client. If you really want to be the most trusted advisor for your clients, then you must maintain a vendor-neutrality in your services.”