May 2016

Cloud accounting and automation threatens compliance jobs. A lesson from Driverless cars

By: Odyssey Cloud
Tags: Automation, Disruption, Internet of Things

You’d probably have been in a secluded cave if you haven’t heard about the internet of things.  However, we’re now on the edge of driverless cars, with many countries now having working cars available, but just needing regulations on how the vehicles will communicate on the roads.  We’re now on the cusp of seeing some incredible things that we’ve only previously seen in movies.

If we were to examine any transport service with a machine and human involvement, the driver (excuse pun) over the years has been to minimise the human involvement. With the human involvement minimized, the machine can run with less care or concern than we have for humans.

So what are the impacts on transport services where the driver is no longer required.

More recently Uber was reported as joining the driverless car race, which would seem strange given one part of the Uber model is the people providing the service. If you compare Uber’s journey as an Amazon like journey, then you might have some idea of what might happen to Uber in a driverless future.

Amazon, was once known as the company that delivers books, and know known as the company that delivers just about anything you like with “one click”, except books of course which now arrive on your kindle!

If Uber is propelling itself to driverless cars, then their business model is quite possibly about transport.  Issues with drivers and drivers rights will slowly fade into the background, much to the chagrin of some.

Once the car is liberated from the driver, then the transport sector becomes interesting. Taxi companies and models will be disrupted. Some reports indicate the cars on the road will be reduced by 80 percent. A massive ripple effect. A technology disruption. Airport transport. Trucks hauling goods can travel 24 hours a day. Automatic petrol filling stations. Automatic repair shops where modular engine components are replaced by machines. Imagine driving yourself amongst several trucks at night, and all the trucks have no drivers. In fact, why would you drive?

So what does all this have to do with accountants and compliance work.  Well, we’re already seeing automation replacing the manual data entry of last century. It’s now quite usual to wake up and check your bank app, and at the same time check your accounts from your bookkeeping app. If bookkeeping packages can auto learn and auto process transactions then it won’t be long until they are fully automated.

And once they are fully automated, or even partly automated, then when all transactions are processed then there will be a time when BAS is automatically lodged, and the tax return is automatically lodged. The ATO will no longer have to wait for months if not years for the lodgment of returns. Returns will auto lodge, and in the future perhaps taxes owed will be automatically transferred from your bank account.

There is no doubt disruption is coming. Even for accountants…