Challenges of the Accounting Profession in the Digital Era: Impact of Cloud Computing Technology
Task: How is cloud computing technology shaping the accounting profession in the digital era, and what are the key challenges and benefits that accountants are facing as they adapt to this technology?
Chapter 1: Introduction
The contemporary business scenario is undergoing a sea change due to the market's continuous innovation spree. Technologies such as cloud computing are initiating a big change in the overall business scenario and each profession is accommodating itself alongside the new changes to survive the market dynamics. Likewise, traditional professions like accounting are also under the purview of cloud computing and are scheduled to undergo wide changes in the process. In the technologically-oriented scenario, accounting professionals are fairly undermined in exploiting the latest technology to deliver a better outcome(Brooks & Dunn, 2018). But time has proven only those acquainted with technologies can survive the test of time and it applies to accountants as well. Cloud computing is gradually becoming an essential criteria for the accountantsto stay relevant in the market.
Cloud computing enable the businesses to host or handle huge volumes of data in a secured periphery. The storage capacity is sufficient to handle massive volume of information and data on the cloud platform(Wang, Ma, Yan, Chang, & Zomaya, 2018). The clients pay stipulated fees to use the cloud infrastructure that provides a sophistication in the business module. On the cloud platform, the company can store its financial and accounting information that the company accountants need to retrieve. An accountant cannot use such information unless he possess right sort of knowledge to use it.
Thus, cloud computing technology isbringing massive changes in the accounting foray. Accountingis no longer a conventional domain as perceived by popular beliefs. Accountants across the world have been instrumental in adding technological inputs like Enterprise Resource Systems (ERP) to manage accounts well and determine taxes. Nowadays, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud technology has been a trend in the industry and the accounting profession is no exception to it. Simultaneously, cloud computing is a new phenomenon and businesses are confused how the mechanism will function toprepare and organize financial statements (Manisha & Bosman, 2018). Then, there are security aspects as the cloud infrastructure will be on rent and unauthorised access can jeopardize confidentiality of the accounting information.
Indeed, cloud technology is a boon to businesses as accountants can monitor effective and accurate deductions of different accounts to prepare financial reports(Al-Okaily, Lutfi, Alsaad, Taamneh, & Alsyouf, 2020). But the technological inputs have a different side to the accounting arena as it reduces human labour substantially. Technological advances are eliminating many entry-level accounting jobs. So, an accountant with an average skill cannot survive the technological changes, while a higher skill is in demand in the market. It is an additional burden for the accountants to get acquainted with sophisticated technologies like cloud computing to save their jobs. Because many experienced accountants, especially those are aging do not have the right mind-set to acquire new skills, particularly cloud computing.
The impact of digital technology is quite effective in contemporary times as businesses across are adopting new changes to survive the market competition. Accordingly, accountants ought to adapt to the advanced technological changes or get perished in the loop. For instance, the greater extent of automation like the implementation of cloud technology has put data entry operators and bookkeepers out of jobs. The companies have access to affordable commercial software and cloud platforms that automates the generation of monthly, quarterly, and yearly financial reports(Hood, 2018). In a way, cloud technology is making the system efficient while the accountants are facing huge skill gap in this regard. Accountants are also apprehensive to undergo a change in their status quo as used to the given scenario and do not want to acquire any new skills.
Again, businesses have the option to outsource their accounting tasks to an external party following the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) model. The aforesaid service provider has the requisite skill and expertise to support the front and back-office accounting tasks. Thus, businesses, especially start-ups or small-scale organizations do not need to recruit accountants as the job can be done by athird party more efficiently and fast. Besides skill gap and job losses, the accountants also face issues like security compromise on the cloud platform. This kind of technology is fairly new to the accountants, so handling the platform with confidential data and information enhances the security concern. Suppose, if an employee handling cloud computing leaves the firm, it strives to have an unwanted data compromise scenario.
The advances in digital technologies like cloud computing technology are posing serious threats to those related to the accounting profession.
The study aims to understand the impact of digital technology, especially cloud computing technology on accounting professionals and how they are coping with it.
Based on the research aim, the research objective for the study is as follows:
• To identify the key challenges that accounting professionals are facing in the digital era, with a particular emphasis on those related to cloud computing technology.
• To explore how cloud computing technology is transforming accounting practices, including its impact on data management, financial reporting, and client interactions.
• To assess the benefits and drawbacks of cloud computing technology for the accounting profession and develop recommendations for how accounting professionals can effectively integrate this technology into their workflows while mitigating potential risks.
This paper strives to contemplate the study in the following manner –
Chapter1: Introduction –
The particular chapter provides a glimpse of the matter by introducing it to the readers. It also throws light on the specific problem that the paper strives to research highlighting its aim and objectives as well as the route map for the study.
Chapter 2: Literature review –
The 2nd chapter is the most crucial element of the paper as it provides a proper direction for the study. It develops a theoretical foundation of the matter based on which the entire paper stands.
Chapter 3: Research methodology –
It is the research methodology that follows the literature review (LR) section. It shows how the researcher conducts the aforesaid research by specifying the suitable methodology. It also shows how the researcher collects the primary data and addresses the ethical concerns if there are any.
Chapter 4: Sample participants –
The next chapter is primarily concerned with research sampling. It discusses the sampling frame alongside the method to use those samples and the participants, thereof.
Chapter 5: Results and data analysis –
The results and data analysis section is an important chapter in the study. It shows the findings that correlate with the study’s aim and objectivesby narrating a descriptive analysis of the discussions therein.
Chapter 6: Discussion of findings –
The chapter provides a detailed discussion based on the findings in the previous chapter. Herein, the researcher also discusses the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the study.
Chapter 7: Conclusion –
It is the ultimate chapter wherein the researcher summarises the points derived from the study. Herein, the researcher discusses to what extent the findings collate with the study aim and objectives and its contribution to the businesses and related professionals.
Chapter 8: Recommendations/policy implementations –
The last chapter comes up with certain recommendations to resolve the ranging issues and derive a better outcome.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Digital transformation through cloud computing in accounting
Naim(2022) pointed out that digital transformation via cloud technology is evident in each aspect of the business and it has even touched the accounting domain also. Nowadays, cloud technology in finance and accounting is no more about technology upgrading, but rather a necessity to survive in the competitive marketplace. Banking and finance have come a long way from paperwork processes to functioning at the fingertips using Internet banking or mobile applications(Rikhardsson & Yigitbasioglu, 2018). The phenomenon strives to make the processes easier for the customers and firms as well as to enable a conducive platform to grow the business. So, cloud computing has extended its reach in the accounting and finance foray to have efficient operating processes for a better outcome.
The recent pandemic has emphasized the need for cloud computing in accounting and finance for seamless business activities despite difficulties in the market(Dodds & Hess, 2020). Gone are the days when the accountants used to occupy a corner office and engage in piled-up books and reports. Technology has automated such thingsand aggravated the accountant’s role as a business advisor.The accounts department has been a continuous target of corporate data breaches(Brooks & Dunn, 2018). Cloud computing has a suitable answer to this by identifying suspicious and malicious emails. Cyber security can help accounts professionals to accelerate the adaptability of technologies in the corporate scenario and spread awareness in other business units as well.
According to Hudson, Mahendrarajah, Walton, & Pascaris (2020), cloud computing in the accounting domain optimises technological efficiency. Computers and sorts of software can handle enormous volumes of data to discover hidden business trends. Since digitalization reduces the burden of clerical tasks, accountants can focus on more important things like advising and decision-making(Potter, Pinnuck, Tanewski, & Wright, 2019). The practice is also cost-efficient; hence businesses are prone to adopt such technology. Cloud computing is the need of the hour and accountants ought to be technologically efficient. Sotnikova, Nazarova, Nazarov, & Bilokonenko (2020) feels they need to train themselves in automation, machine learning, cloud technology, and a host of other things to survive the dynamic business scenario.
Modes of digital transformation through cloud technology in Accounting
Mobile technology –
Dwyer(2020)viewed that mobile technology has become a prime apparatus for communication among accounting professionals. They can download certain accounting software using mobile apps and run them on their mobiles to contemplate important processes like invoicing. Fan, Liu, Yang, Chen, & Hu(2019) credit the rise of internet technology that facilitates accountants to stay connected even from a remote location. Even businesses across the industry are coming up with mobile apps to draw the attention of the targeted customers and establish a direct link with them. Similarly, the trend is evidenced as cloud mobile apps that the accountants can access. But having mobile apps of this sort raise the security concern for cloud technology.
Big data –
Choi, Wallace, & Wang(2018) held that big data is effective for suitable interpretation of things for a better understanding of the way the business is heading such as trend analysis. Big organizations like Google, Amazon, and IBM are exploiting big data to strike a competitive edge to target sales efforts, enhance business efficiency, and attain a greater level of customer satisfaction. Wang, Ma, Yan, Chang, & Zomaya(2018) states that big data collaborate with cloud technology to reach out to vendors and generate sorts of reports for better analysis of the business scenario. It is to be seen how Big Data can make cloud computing fault tolerant to have its better usage.
According to Parmar, Khan, Tucci, Umer, & Carlone(2021), the wide array of computers and machines associated with the business scenario provides a certain amount of intelligence for its efficient operations. Robotics is a comprehensive system of control systems, software, manipulators, sensors, and power supplies that work cohesively to contemplate a series of business activities. For instance, customers while contacting Amazon over the website come across the ‘bots’ who handle their requests, suggestions, or grievances. These bots are the ideal example of robotics used in the business scenariovia cloud computing (Xiao & Kumar, 2021). Robotics cloud are replacing humans to do boring jobs or take irritating calls from customers. It is also offering advice on financial issues, pensions, insurance, and retirements, but those are generic and not customized. The question arise how far the robotics cloud are safe for humans to save their jobs.
Cyber security –
The growth of cloud computing has made the system vulnerable to sorts of attacks and the risk of hacking. Thus, cyber security is propositioned like processes and policies to enhance business activities digitally and thwart plausible interruptions(Whiteman & Corps, 2020). Cloud technology has paved way for hackers and cybercriminals. Baiget al., (2017)feel that accountants need to be ensured that the system is free from such malicious activities, while the auditor needs to protect client information.
Payment systems –
Ogundare & Abdulsalam(2020) noted that the software is getting more e-commerce characteristics. For instance, customers are exploiting the electronic wallets on their mobile phones to pay merchants or utilities. Alternative platforms are using cryptocurrencies to create unregulated financial portfolios and the growing extent of cloud technology is facilitating it. Thus, the security aspect takes a toll due to non-regulation of such alternative payment mechanisms.
Digital service delivery –
Al-Okaily, Lutfi, Alsaad, Taamneh, & Alsyouf(2020) perceived that new technologies are facilitating self-service, online, and interactive servicesto provide and access resources. The accountants are exploiting digital service delivery to access management and statutory reports. Cloud computing further enhances accessibility. Simultaneously, the growing accessibility may raise a security concern if the rules are not properly maintained.
Virtual and augmented reality –
Augmented reality (AR) can enhance the perception of the real environment by providing inputs like sound, video, graphical overlays, and sorts of data. Nanotechnology is an example of AR and Apple is using it to make mobiles more interactive(Jackson, 2020). Besides, virtual reality (VR) is rampantly used in specified industries like the oil and gas, and automobile sectors. Accountants use the visualisation of complex processes to provide training, attract clients, and develop new business segments for wholesome growth.
Social collaboration –
In the digital era, the professionalism of accountants is restructured by social collaborations. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has authorized social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to have disclosures of their investors. The phenomenon will help in ERPand customer relationship management. Cloud helps the stakeholders to gain financial information on different social media platforms like Twitter. But it enhances the risk of falling information into wrong hands.
Cloud computing –
Businesses as well as accountants exploit cloud computing in response to the growing bouquet of services for SaaS or software as a service. It takes care of financial budgeting to creating data spreadsheets that are crucial for the business (Wang, Ma, Yan, Chang, & Zomaya, 2018).
Impact of cloud computing onAccounting
Among various digital technologies used in the process, cloud computing has been the most impactful. Conventional accounting like bookkeeping to record business activities is a significant aspect, but a time-consuming matter as well. Aman & Mohamed(2018) stated the emergence of digital technology like cloud computing has brought a revolution in the accounting domain by recording the accounting data and information on the cloud server. The technology is widely used to amass, store, access, and process various documents like purchase orders, invoices, and account statements. According to Manisha & Bosman(2018), cloud accounting software is a model transaction in the accounting domain.
Cloud computing vs. traditional accounting
Faragardi(2017) holds that cloud accounting can be accessed across the globe, while traditional accounting is limited to a particular device.Again, cloud computing can provide real-time financial reporting, flexible, automatic updates and an in-built security system. Contrarily, traditional accounting is devoid of such flexibility and facility. Rittinghouse & Ransome(2017) pointed out that in cloud accounting, the staff are motivated to meet the organizational goals as it paves a definite direction which is missing in the other case. Cloud accounting is innovative and throws challenges to the staff to keep themselves updated, while conventional accounting is boring and an erroneous task.
Benefits of cloud accounting
Currently, the corporate scenario is undergoing a massive change from desktop to cloud computing. Wang, Ma, Yan, Chang, & Zomaya(2018) noted that cloud accounting is the need of the hour and its benefits are as follows:
Right access from anywhere –
Park & Park(2017) revealed that the uniqueness of cloud accounting is that it can be accessed from anywhere, anytime across the globe provided one is connected to the internet. It does not need to be physically present at the office to contemplate the job or wait for approval to access a particular data or information.
Real-time information –
Cloud accounting facilitates to access real-time data processing and analysis negating the need to look into historical records(CIMA, 2023). It helps to update the bank reconciliation statement and other financial records to have a real-time overview of the firm’s financial position. The phenomenon leads to crucial financial and strategic decisions(Aman & Mohamed, 2018).
Highest level of safety and security –
Cloud accounting comes up with the highest level of security, simultaneously providing the latest versions of software and multi-level access for the users. Accountantscan get easy access to the financial data and information stored in the cloud safely and securely(Faragardi, 2017). The platform functions with the latest version of the software which is highly efficient and can be customized as per organizational needs.
Cloud accounting software
Cloud accounting software is highly in demand as with time, more organizations are shifting to the cloud platform(Park & Park, 2017). This sort of software is highly effective to gain the rightful information and strategize business activities in favour of the organization. To do so, the business can use software like Zoho Books, Xero, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and QuickBooks Online.
Challenges to accounting professionals due to the digitalization
Digital transformation is a noble initiative and a requirement as well to keep up with the times. Simultaneously, it poses undue challenges to accountants as digitalization or cloud accounting is supposed to replace various accounting jobs, especially those at the entry level(Bornstein, 2019).
Processing of accounts receivable or payable –
The AI-enabled tool makes the invoice management system swifter for the effective processing of invoices terming it more appropriate than the conventional modes(Naim, 2022).
Machines like robotics are replacing paper works and streamlining the process along with the suppliers to make it an overall paperless supply chain process(Metcalf & Gupta, 2021). The robots can switch from one supplier to another to track the price changes among available suppliers.
Supplier onboarding –
Nowadays, machines can source new suppliers by checking their credentials like credit history without minimal human intervention. The organization dashboard contains sufficient information for the purpose.
Financial closing reports –
Machines can extract financial data and information from various sources and compile them effectively to have faster and more accurate periodic reports.
Expense control –
The machines can read receipts, audit the costs if felt necessary, and raise an alert in case of any discrepancy(Ogundare & Abdulsalam, 2020). So, reviewing and approving the expenses to see whether they are aligned with the organizational policies are a thing of the past.
Digitalization in auditing reduces human labour enormously as it facilitates a digital trail of the files required to be accessed. The auditors no longer need to waste time searching a particular file or document while auditing. Auditors can easily access digital files from the organization’s cloud platform(Sotnikova, Nazarova, Nazarov, & Bilokonenko, 2020). The swiftness and accessibility of data and information raise audit accuracy and efficiency,extracting 100% audit of the firm’s financial transactions rather than a sample.
AI chatbots –
Chatbots are the most effective means to resolve customer queries or complaints(Dwyer, 2020). They can provide information on the latest account balances, outstanding bills, account status, and a host of other things.
Challenges to accounting professionals due to cloud accounting
Change management issue –
In a traditional approach, the accounting profession seems to be quite conventional with few changes to inculcate apart from accounting regulations. But the advent of digital technology such as cloud computing has changed the game altogether. Xiao & Kumar(2021)believein the era ofdigitalization wherein financial data are stored digitally in the forms of e-ledgers and e-documents. In the process, human interference is bound to reduce and so do their employment in the field. Impact technology like AI is equipped to manage organizational processes(Tran, et al., 2019). The phenomenon enhances the credibility of the financial reports prepared in the process doing away with plausible human errors.
The growing relevance of cloud accounting in the business scenario tends the organizations to make effective changes in their business model. Rittinghouse & Ransome(2017) insists that organizations across the industry should ensure swift adaptation and transformation to suitable accounting practices. Accountants across the globe are facing growing technological threats to their profession as they lack the requisite training or skill to handle the cloud accounting phenomenon(CIMA, 2023). It requires accounting professionals to be proficient in exploiting digital mechanisms like AI, cloud computing, big data, and others which is missing at the moment.
Petrou, Demerouti, & Schaufeli(2018)feel that organizational staff are uncomfortable with changes that the organization undergoes. Accountants are risk averse in nature and may resist the digital transformation as it strives to send them to a new periphery. They encounter fear that machines will completely replace them and their skills become obsolete. Human error is also a grave risk to such digitalization strategies as manual feeding of data and information may lead to data deterioration (Lee, Lee, Malatesta, & Fernandez, 2019).
Knowledge gap of accountants –
Around 62% of accounting professionals across the world are going through a knowledge gap and this is affecting their performance (Inaa.org, 2021). The widening skill gap is affecting the company’s performance as well as the accountants’ lack of appropriate data analysis skills. Advanced data analyticsis the need of the hour as businesses across the spectrum are accelerating their digital transformation agenda(Fedorova, Koropets, & Gatti, 2019). Thus, it is high time that accountants should also follow suit and derive skills in data-based decision-making.
Cost issue –
Digital transformation can be expensive in the initial phase, but with time, the costs are reduced. The costs can be high and it may trouble small businesses to set up such an expensive digital infrastructure considering the business dimension and volume(Jaseem & Sayari, 2023). Notably, a constrained budget may compromise on the features of the cloud accounting system that do not add relevance to the firm. Though cloud accounting has subscriptions, it varies as per the customization of the business needs.
Security issue –
Baiget al., (2017) cautioned against cyber-attacks being prominent once digital transformation takes its final shape. The phenomenon raises the risk of ransomware attacks orchestrated by cyber criminals. It may compromise the confidentiality of financial data causing grave risk to the business. So, cyber security is a prime factor while using cloud technology as the company’s confidential data and information may be vulnerable to unethical hackers. The cloud platform mat have access to various persons and as the number of heads increases, the risk doubles to protect the data and information from both insiders and outsiders.
Disadvantages of cloud accounting
According to Wang, Ma, Yan, Chang, & Zomaya(2018), cloud computing is an undoubtedly powerful tool that facilitates business processes to a new level. But certain aspects need to be adjudged before resorting to cloud accounting as those are detrimental to both the accountants and the firm. The following points are noted –
Aman & Mohamed(2018)caution about security being the primary concern as it comprises financial data that is confidential to the business. That sensitive informationisvulnerable to security exploits and ill-fated incidences. This is highly probable unless the organization ensures high standards and strong discipline to control access to the system. For instance, the login to the cloud platform ought to be changed when the staff handling it leaves the organization.
Internet speed –
Cloud accounting needs a suitable internet/broadband speed to perform, otherwise, it impacts the system’s efficiency (Baig, et al., 2017).The speed depends on the subscription pattern of the client and if the client has a basic subscription plan, the speed and efficiency of the system may suffer.
Power of vendor –
Clients may suffer from indecision about whether they need to switch to an alternative vendor in the upcoming future. Like the client, vendors as well have their limitations. They may not have the suitable resource or infrastructure to provide the facility effectively.
Lack of customization –
In certain cases, the client requirements do not match the offerings of the platform. It indicates limitations of the cloud accounting mechanism to contemplate specified functions and tends the client to look for alternatives to serve the purpose.
Recurring costs –
Hosting cloud accounting is not a free plan as the organization has to bear recurring costs such as rent to use such a digital platform. It is fine for the big companies but smaller firms struggle to bear the cost.
Lack of human supervision –
Digital intrusion reduces human interference substantially but a malfunction in the software may go awry for the organization. Humans work as backups and customer support whenever there is a programming issue in the software.
A plausible solution to the issue
Change is inevitable in the business scenario and accounting professionals across the spectrum ought to embrace the changes being brought in due to digital transformation. The matter is well-explained using Lewin’s change management model. The model is conceptualized by Kurt Lewin and comprises three distinct phases – Unfreeze, change, and refreeze(Huffington, 2018).
Stage 1 – Unfreeze
The first phase is when it is required to unfreeze wherein the staff will be motivated to adopt cloud computing technology in accounting. The organizational leadership undertakes the responsibility to make the staff aware of the latest innovations and respond likely to stay relevant in the dynamic corporate scenario. As the organization motivate the employees to adapt to digital transformation, the change phase takes over(Petrou, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2018).
Stage 2 – Change
This phase is crucial as the staff gets the required skills and capability to perform with the assistance of various digital tools, say cloud computing. The accountants acquire cloud computing skills and close the skill gap pertinent in the contemporary business scenario. It is the perfect transition phase that transcends into the refreezing stage.
Stage 3 – Refreeze
It is the last phase wherein; the staff adapts to the new scenario making digitalization in accounting a norm to follow.The accountants absorb the cloud computing skill to implement the same in their workplace(Naim, 2022). The phenomenon provides the required confidence among the accountants tocontemplate the accounting jobs on the cloud-based platform.
Besides the skill gap of the accountants, safeguarding confidentiality of the cloud platform is also important. There ought to be stringent cyber policies governing technology securities as the accountants encounter on the cloud platform.The phenomenon will help them to contemplate their activities efficiently and ensure security of the firm’s confidential accounting and financial information.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
This particular section shows how the researcher strives to answer the research objectives. Accordingly, it provides a suitable roadmap for the researcher to follow and address the issues to reach a suitable conclusion.
It is a scientific mode of research to find out the most effective way to understand the matter and work out a solution to conclude. The methodology is of three types – qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methodology. The qualitative research methodology focuses on the experiences, beliefs, behaviour, attitude, and interactions of the sample respondents(Bairagi & Munot, 2019). The data and information are non-numerical in nature and deliver an intervention strategy to enhance attention across disciplines. Again, there is the quantitative research methodology that focuses on numerical data, graphs, and financial figures to extract suitable information from them(Dodds & Hess, 2020). Lastly, the mixed methodology comprises the characteristics of both qualitative and quantitative methodology for the researcher to contemplate the study effectively.
Justification for choice
This particular research delves into qualitative research methodology. It is because the researcher needs to understand the inherent logic that the industry favours digital transformation in every aspect of business, particularly accounting(Creswell, 2019). The researcher will source the qualitative data from the interviews conducted with industry insiders. They can provide suitable inputs about the necessity of digitalization of accounting and the challenges that followed the decision.
The appropriate method to collect the data
The researcher needs to understand the current scenario that the accounting professionals are going through. For this, he needs to get primary research data which the researcher can collect through surveys or interviews. Since the study undertakes qualitative research methodology, it is effective to have interviews. Because surveys go well with quantitative research, while interviews collate with qualitative methods(Choi, Wallace, & Wang, 2018). These interviews will throw insight into the research matter to understand the challenges of digitalization for accounting professionals and how to cope with them.
Ethical issues are of vital concern in research to this extent. Accordingly, the researcher should take due care of the ethical parameters of the study(Breen, 2018). It is up to the researcher to see that the study does not get compromised or get commercially exploited. The study should be set entirely for academic purposes and not for something else. It is significant to adjudge that the researcher did not resort to his biasness, rather he took a neutral stance(Sim & Waterfield, 2019). He should uphold the integrity of the study and not compromise on the research quality. The research attempts to answer the research objectives to strive for a suitable resolution.
Chapter 4: Sample participants
This particular chapter comprises details of the research sample that the researcher will use in due course of the study. It tells about the sampling frame, sampling method, research participants, and characteristics of the participants used in the study.
A sampling frame is an accumulation of units wherein it provides equal probability for every units to participate in the study(Huang & Crotts, 2019).The targeted demography will be those related to the accounting domain as they can provide a synopsis of the challenges that the accountants are going through due to cloud computing. The choice of the sampling frame is intentional as the study concerns about rapid digitalization in accounting domain and the accountants going through such a process can shed light on it. The researcher takes a sampling frame of five accountants practising at Glenview and he will select two best interviews out of five.
The researcher chooses simple random sampling as his target is the accountants from Glenview. In this case, every practising accountant from Glenview has an equal opportunity to feature in the research study. He keeps the format as simple as possible because to reach out to the targeted segment and have their views on the research topic(Wolff, Baglivio, & Piquero, 2017).
Research participants are an important aspect to conduct the study effectively. The researcher selects the geography of Glenview to conduct the study. He will approach the accountants practicing in various firms across the town to have their outlook on growing digitalization in their domain. Since it is a qualitative research focusing on the inherent aspect of digitalization of accounting profession, the research participants should be limited in number(Pearson, 2017). The researcher decided to interview five accountantsfrom Glenview and select the best two interviews for the study.
Characteristics of the participants
The research participants ought to be industry insiders, particularly accountants to point out the changes brought in due to digitalization in their domain. They should have some experience with cloud accounting enabling them to understand and depict the challenges that accounting professionals are facing in the current scenario(Eckert & Hüsig, 2021). Again, the researcher wants the accountants should be actively practicing either they are employed or practicing independently to make the readers understand the changing professional dynamics. The research participants should have a progressive outlook and unbiased in their perspective to provide a realistic resolution to the study.
Chapter 5: Results and data analysis
The researcher conducts interview of the accountants, one gentleman is partner at the reputed accounting firm, Weiss & Company LLP, and the other lady is employed with SK Tax Glenview.
Refer to the appendix
Findings of the study
The study finds that the market is quite upbeat about the new changes in the accounting domain. They agree that cloud computing can change the accounting foray forever. Simultaneously, they realized that an accountant cannot stick to the conventional routine, rather they need to up-skill to survive the market completion and apparent changes(Parmar, Khan, Tucci, Umer, & Carlone, 2021). People are apprehensive about the changes happening around and so do the accountants. Once they accept that change is imminent, they can settle with the new status quo to implement technological inputs in accounting.
The study also shows that there are certain confusion in implementation of cloud computing in the professional accounting arena. Cloud computing so far has been into the IT domain, now it is spreading its wings beyond(Fan, Liu, Yang, Chen, & Hu, 2019). So, having confusion with its suitable implementation is fairly natural. The growing influence of digitalization is good for the industry and so, the accountants have no choice other than accepting such changes. As they have realized the growing influence of cloud computing in the accounting domain, they want to be a part of it by acquiring such skills.
Answers to the research objectives
The researcher makes it quite clear to make the study aligned with the research aim and objectives. For that, he directed his study right from introduction to the literature review and data findings in alignment to the research objectives. The researcher dealt with the first question about the current challenges of the accountants in contemporary scenario. It is a matter of core relevance in the study as the topic centres on it. The rest are sub-objectives and the researcher clearly attempts the question to get a suitable response.
The researcher asks the second question concerning the impact of cloud accounting in the current accounting domain. This particular question collates with the second research objective that has future implications as well. Accordingly, the researcher throws the question while conducting interviews of the sample accountants. Both of them agree to the growing relevance of cloud accounting while offering their individual perspectives on cloud computing. Some concerns regarding lack of human intervention are justified and need to be analysed carefully before opting the right cloud vendor.
The third question on the futuristic approach of cloud computing aligns with the research objective to understand its benefits and drawbacks. Both respondents have their individual standpoint on cloud computing but they agree that it is the future and the accountants need to adapt to the new scenario. The challenging proposition to the accountants is not the job losses, but inculcating in themselves a suitable change to acquaint with the latest technologies.
Descriptive analysis of the data
The researcher has taken great care to select the research participants as the main criteria has been those who are industry insiders. Each participant in the process are qualified accountants and have suitable industry experiences. They are witnessing the tectonic shift that the accounting professionals are going through. The technological intervention is bound to make a significant difference in the accounting domain and the respondents also agree on the fact. The implications of digitalization and cloud computing will make accounting more efficient and faster to prepare. So, the entry-level jobs in accounting will steadily decline in the contemporary market. The accountants are supposed to be more proficient in technologies besides their accounting skills. It may be an issue currently, but with time, it will become a norm.
The data reveals that technological inputs are a new phenomenon that accountants are envisaging. They are fearing the change because of their technological skill gaps. If they can have proper training on such skills such as cloud computing, they can be an effective part of the impending changes in the accounting domain. The respondents are quite unbiased in their approach as they overhaul the technological changes, while raise concerns on their limited knowledge on such matters. They are concerned about the changes in approach of the accountants in the accounting domain as the professionals need to enhance their accounting skills and efficiency by adapting to the technological changes. Mostly, people are accustomed to their status quo and they refuse to change as accountants are quite conventional in their approach.
The research participants also threw light on the cost proposition of the cloud platform as it is supposed to enhance the organization’s operation cost. Besides, there is the cloud security issue that may jeopardize the safety and security proposition of the cloud platform activities. Accordingly, the management ought to consider due attentionto the issue for fruitful use of cloud technology in accounting.
Chapter 6: Discussion of findings
The chapter is concerned about the interpretation and significance of the data findings. It also evaluates whether the results are consistent with the research objectives or the primary data matches with the literature review. Lastly, the chapter also points out the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the study that the researcher conducted.
Interpretation and significance of the findings
The study shows that the accountants have realized that a suitable technological change is imminent in the industrial scenario. In a natural progression, technological relevance is gaining prominence and thebusinesses are more prone to using advance technological inputs like cloud accounting. The measure will raise the efficiency level of accounting and the role of the accountants also evolves. They are supposed to play a more important part in the business to make decisions, rather than clerical outputs like a bookkeeper(Rittinghouse & Ransome, 2017). The data rightly shows that the job scenario will also evolve rather than disappearing of job opportunities as the market is quite apprehensive of the situation.
The study finds that the respondents though are vocal of the rightful technological changes, simultaneously are concerned about the security measures and customization approach that cloud computing can offer. It is because cloud accounting is a new phenomenon and most accountants have no idea of its implementation in the workplace(Aman & Mohamed, 2018). They have a vague idea, but awaiting its rightful use to understand its current and future implications. It is because they have certain concerns like lack of customization, reduced human intervention, and security aspects that cloud computing is not clear about. So, the researcher have highlighted the gaps that cloudcomputing have in the process and seeks its proper resolution.
The study is quite significant to highlight the education or training gap that the accountants have in the scenario. The growing technological relevance in the accounting domain widens the skill gap of the accountants as they have a very little knowledge on different technological inputs like cloud computing. So, they are apprehensive to use such things in their practice due to a lack of knowledge. It is effective to provide suitable training to the accountants in cloud technology so far their domain is concerned and have a great outcome in the process. This sort of research provides a definite perspective that technology will make the accountants efficient, not unemployed.
Consistency between primary data and literature review
Consistency is a primary aspect of the study and the researcher effectively strives for a synergy throughout the process. The points that the researcher made on due course of the study do not contradict each other. It is an ideal example of an effective research study that strives to meet the research aim and objectives uniformly. To start with, the research objectives are influenced by the research aim that paves for a comprehensive literature review on the subject matter.
Again, while conducting the interviews, the researcher ensured that the interview questions should be in line with the research objectives. The issues such as the current challenges of the accounting professionals are found both in the LR and the interviews as well. This is to show a consistency throughout the research process to attain a favourable ground. Thus, the LR forms a support to the responses of the interviewees to depict the current scenario in the accounting domain.
The LR have comprehensive discussions on the benefits and drawbacks of digitalization and cloud accounting for the accountants. And the same aspect emerges in the interview of the respondents also. Thus, the responses are congruent with the inputs in the LR.Matching the primary data derived from the interviews and the LR is anatural progression and the researcher abides by the same to give the research a scientific and positive outlook.
Strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the study
Strengths of the study –
The research study is quite insightful as it delves into the insight of the impending challenges for the accounting professionals. The matter is shown in a different light as unemployment is not the bothering issue, while it is the skill gap of the accountants. In a dynamic world, accountants ought to level up their skill to stay relevant in the job market. They should up-skill themselves to cope with the impending changes. So, the challenging proposition is to make the accountants in synergy with technological relevance and not employability as popularly conceived. The study is quite significant as it throws an insight into the contemporary industrial practices to have positive outcomes.
Weaknesses of the study –
The study on the challenging proposition of digitalization among accounting professionals is quite relevant. But it lacks multi-perspective angle as the researcher focused the study based on the accountants’ perspective leaving aside the employers. It would have been much enlightening to understand what the employers want from the accountants in the technologically enhanced scenario. So, this portion is missing which could have given a different dimension to the study. Again, the study gives due impetus on cloud technology. Though it is in the right direction, the study could have delved into other digital aspects like ERP, social collaboration, and digital payment services among others.
Limitations of the study –
The research is quite comprehensive in its approach as it touches every relevant points suitable for the matter. It is the researcher’s decision to use qualitative interview for the purpose which is a good idea. But interviewing only two accountants do not make any sense as a higher number, say responses of 4-5 individual accountants could have made a significant impact on the study. Again, a secondary data analysis would have made the study more purposeful. Currently, the study seems a half-hearted approach as the researcher limited himself to Glenview rather than having a more holistic approach. The study is trying to create a global appeal using the responses of accountants from Glenview.
Chapter 7: Conclusion
It is the concluding chapter that summarizes the findings of the study that provides a concluding remark on the study being done so far. It not only validates the reference to the research aim but also highlights the significance of the study in the industry.
Conclusion of the study
The research concludes that the accountants across the scenario are reeling under the challenging glare of the growing technological relevance in the accounting domain. Indeed, the accountants are forced to have a major shift in their professional arena as technological relevanceis due to disturb their status quo. They need to be aware of the technological updates in the accounting domain and get acquainted with them to survive in the profession. The future holds for technologically-equipped accountants and if the individual do not abide by it, he will perish in the system. It is because technological marvels like cloud computing will make accounting more fast, efficient, and accessible. So, to make themselves relevant in the market, the accountants should face the challenge to adapt to digitalization.
The study is concerned about the challenges concerning the accountants in the current scenario owing to technological changes in the industry. The researcher holds that the challenges are mostly in the minds of the accountants as they need to acquaint themselves with such technological changes. As humans are averse to changes, the accountants shy away from the growing technological relevance in the domain. The accountants ought to up-skill themselves in various technological inputs such as cloud computing to progress in their profession. Advanced technologies like cloud computing will not make the accountants obsolete, rather change their roles. They will no longer act as clerks rather decision-makers as technological inputs takes care of the entry-level jobs. The phenomenon will be cost-effective for the businesses, so it is effective for the accountants to get acquainted with technological changes like loud computing.
Achieving research aim
The researcher has designed the study so that each part be in congruence with another. The research aim and objectives collate with the LR and the same with the research data and findings. The research aim strives to find out the challenges that advanced technologies like cloud computing are implicating on accounting professionals. The study findings reveal that technological changes are imminent and the accountants should evolve themselves with the growing technological inputs in their profession. They can only survive the changes if they adhere to it or else perish in the competition.
The research supports the problem statement that digital technologies like cloud computing are making basic accounting jobs irrelevant in the market. The data-entry sort of jobs will fade away within no time as more technological interferences grips in. Cloud computing strives to make the accountants more efficient as they will be making decisions for the business by looking into the charts, graphs, and reports prepared by the technological platforms. So, the accountants will no longer be required to do clerical jobs.They will undertake more important positions in the organization for its growth and development like interacting with the clients to make the process better.
Findings for the industry
The research is an eye-opener for the industry as it offers a different perspective to delve upon. The general notion is that technological inputs like cloud computing in the accounting profession will make the accountants obsolete. This proposition is partly true as the entry-level accounting jobs like that of data entry, and bookkeeper will be overtaken by technologies, such as cloud computing. But the truth is technologies will make the accountants far more efficient as they do not need to waste their time on clerical outputs, rather indulge in important decision-making mechanisms. The accountants can use the reports, financial figures, and other information generated by cloud computing to interpret and analyse the business situations. So, their role will evolve to a greater and important position, rather than technology taking over their jobs.
Findings as a researcher
The study is fruitful for the researcher as well as it showed him a new perspective in life to have a critical insight of the matter, rather than adjudging by mere facts only. Indeed, technology will make certain accounting jobs disappear within no time, but that is half the truth. This particular research shows that to have a perspective one needs to have an insight on the matteras seen in this case. So, it is a lesson for the readers and the researcher also to have a critical insight on the matter before reaching a conclusion.
Chapter 8: Recommendations / Policy implications
After going through the entire research and the conclusion, the researcher intends to offer certain recommendations, such as:
• Exploit the organizational leadership to initiate the change by inculcating a change management process for the accounting professionals. The leadership should be responsible to make them understand the need of the changes to make them accept the situation.
• Ask the managers or competent authorities in the organizations to arrange suitable technological training for the accountants. The phenomenon will usher in a confidence among the accountants to exploit technological inputs like cloud accounting to generate sorts of reports and use them for business decisions.
• Facilitate stringent cyber policies and security within the organization to led an effective technological run and enable the accountants to use it without any hindrance.
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What are the challenges that digitalization and cloud computing is posing to the accountants?
The 1st accountant believes that it is a crucial phase for the practising accountants as they need to change keeping in tune with time. Digitalization and cloud accounting making it quite convenient for the businesses to main records. But the accountants are facing the heat as they need to upscale their skills to survive in the domain and many people are not ready to do so.
The 2nd accountant holds that technological changes are inevitable in the current scenario. She feels that people like her having expertise in cloud accounting and other digital tools can get lucrative offers in the market. Simultaneously, the entry level jobs are disappearing fast as technology is taking care of the manual data entries and other trifle things so far handled by accountants.
What do you think about the impact of cloud accounting in your profession?
The partner at Weiss & Company feels that cloud accounting is a new technology and an accountant should be aware of its usage. He states that as computer replaced manual entry in ledger and journal books, cloud accounting is the latest phase. It makes accounting more efficient, error-free, accessible, and effective.
The 2nd accountant is a little apprehensive about cloud accounting as the technology is fairly new and seems expensive for her to bear. Though she applauds the initiative for its real-time information, she feels that lesser instance of human intervention may lead to system hacking or erroneous entry in due course. Even she is tensed about her job as her lack of knowledge in cloud accounting can replace her from the firm.
What are your thoughts on cloud computing in accounting considering the upcoming future?
The 1st accountant believes that cloud computing is a new edge technology that can characterize the accounting spree with efficiency, fairness, and flexibility in generating sorts of reports. To cope with the impending changes, the accountants have to adapt to such technologies or perish in the competitive marketplace. Simultaneously, he feels like other technologies, cloud computing also has certain flaws like lack of customization or role of vendors. He thinks with time, these things can be sorted out to deliver a suitable accounting solution to firms.
The 2nd accountant perceives that cloud accounting is effective for businesses and so, the firms will shift to such a platform. Accordingly, the accountants like her need to get proper training so that they can have the confidence to handle such advanced technologies. She feels that such things enhances their performance and change their professional role to advisory rather than the erstwhile bookkeepers. The accountant is hopeful that with proper training, they can strike a significant difference in the field.