In an industry riddled with regulation, time sheets, and database entry, MYOB CEO Tim Reed believes the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to redefine the role of the accountant.
With sensors and internet connections present in everything from a vehicle to the smartphone in an employee's back pocket, the accounting software company chief believes there is an opportunity in bringing all of that captured data into an accounting firm.
"That means that far more than ever in the past, we're able to capture input to the accounting system, electronically as it occurs," Reed explained.
A great example of this, Reed said, would be time sheets.
In an accounting firm, employees are often required to complete time sheets that account for every moment of their day. With the IoT, staff would not need to enter minute-by-minute actions, Reed told ZDNet, as this could be completed based on an employee's GPS movements, recorded by their smartphone, intelligent car, and entry into the office, as some examples.
"All of that information will be captured and automatically fed into the accounting system," Reed added. "All of these tiny little things together mean that increasingly the data that is needed, the very source of the transaction ... will be collected automatically."
He believes the role of companies like MYOB will be to provide a platform that ploughs through the captured data with algorithms and highlights only the exceptions, anomalies, and outlying information to the accountant.
"The role of the accountant then becomes one of making sure that the overall system is set up and is configured accurately so that the business captures the data that it wants, to be able to make informed business decisions," Reed added.
When coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), the IoT then becomes a valuable tool to an accountant who spends a lot of time on laborious rule-based tasks, which a machine can take over.
"If we think about the progress of computing over the last 30 years, it's continued to become more and more powerful and we're now at the point where computers are much better than humans at thinking -- doing tasks which require doing some sort of intellectual computation in a predictable manner," Reed explained.
"What computers don't do particularly well are things we as humans don't need to think about -- the things we've just learnt over time -- how to understand and read emotion."
To Reed, the accountant will become far more of a coach and almost a business partner with the small business owner, as the accountant will be able to make informed business decisions on behalf of their client with the copious amounts of data they will have access to.
"The role of the accountant that I think is really exciting will be configuring to make sure the way that data is classified creates meaningful output for the business," he added.
Previously, Reed explained that while MYOB's bread and butter has been providing its customers with disparate core business processes, the emergence of IoT and AI will also allow his company to dissolve transaction processing, compliance, and advisory processes into one.
For the 2016 financial year, MYOB reported AU$54 million in after-tax profit, up substantially over its FY2015 loss of AU$42.2 million, which was impacted by the company's re-entry onto the Australian Securities Exchange.
Revenue for the 12-month period was AU$370.4 million, representing a 13 percent increase over the same period a year prior, while statutory EBITDA for the year was AU$164 million.
The company also recently announced the AU$48 million acquisition of payment solutions provider Paycorp, which will bring 6,500 clients -- including many Australian banks -- into the MYOB business.