Quantum Computing Uses That Solve Business Problems

Quantum Computing for businessEarly technology adopters are more likely to gain better business results, including higher revenue growth and market position. With businesses facing complex problems every day, it is no doubt that they are always watching out for the next big tech that offers a better solution.

Although still in its infancy stages, quantum computing is a technology whose commercial use will disrupt the business environment.

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is a technology that focuses on manipulating and controlling different laws of physics. This non-classical technology uses quantum mechanical concepts like superposition and quantum entanglement.

The idea of quantum computing is not new and has come a long way. The first algorithm of large integer factorization for quantum computing was introduced in 1994. This algorithm intended to reduce the time it would take classical computers to find the prime factors of large numbers. It’s worth noting that the majority of the current infrastructure for encryption and information security is built on prime factorization.

Since the first algorithm was developed, more technological advances have been reported, and the field is continuously receiving funding. According to the McKinsey & Company Quantum Technology Monitor, funding from private and public sectors for this new technology is skyrocketing worldwide.

How it Works

Unlike classical computing whose information is encoded by bits, in quantum computing a qubit is the basic unit of quantum information. Qubit allows all combinations of information to exist simultaneously so that quantum computers can solve problems exponentially faster and with less energy consumption than classical computers.

In 2019, Google, in partnership with NASA, achieved quantum supremacy by demonstrating that quantum computers can compute in seconds what would take advanced supercomputers thousands of years.

Advanced development in this technology has also seen the introduction of quantum-computing cloud infrastructure through Quantum as a Service (QaaS). QaaS provides access to quantum computing platforms over the internet to customers. Major technology companies, such as Amazon, Alibaba, IBM, Google and Microsoft, have already launched commercial cloud services for quantum computing.

With the continued increase in the quantum computing ecosystem and emerging business use cases, business leaders must stay aware and prepare to adopt the new technology.

Business Use Cases for Quantum Computing

1. Quick Data Analytics

Today more than ever, businesses are faced with big data and a large quantity of information requiring analysis and storage. Since classical computers are built to solve one task at a time, it takes longer to solve these complex problems.

However, quantum technology has the potential to turn complex computations into simple calculations that are solved in less time.

2. Optimize Investment Strategies

Optimization is all about finding the most ideal solution in a situation. When many options are available, it takes a classical computer a long time to find a solution. Therefore, classical computers use shortcuts, and the final solution is partly optimal. But, with quantum computing, there will be better optimization.

3. Better Forecast and Prediction

Businesses rely on forecasts and predictions generated after analyzing complex and large data sets. Quantum computing is built to process huge amounts of data quickly and more accurately. As a result, better forecasts and predictions will enable better decision-making.

4. Solve Problems With Financial Services

There are various computationally intensive jobs in finance that could be facilitated by quantum computing, such as credit-risk management, financial crime reduction and trading strategy optimization. These tasks will greatly benefit from quantum algorithms that increase the speed of financial calculations.

5. Improve Data Security

Quantum computers are built to break encryptions that ordinary computers cannot. This might become a problem if hackers were to acquire encrypted data and store it until large-scale quantum computers are operational. To handle this problem, postquantum cryptography, a type of cyber security that can be used by conventional computers, is currently being developed. Therefore, a switch to quantum-resistant cryptography will prevent the possibility of data being exposed. At the same time, it will ensure better protection of digital assets.

Final Thoughts

Quantum computers will not replace classical computers; however, the two will form a hybrid solution whereby each task will be assigned to the most suitable machine – either quantum or classical.

Achieving the aforementioned benefits will require businesses to have teams of experts who are knowledgeable about the implications of quantum computing and who can recognize the company’s potential future needs, opportunities and vulnerabilities.

With signs of commercial quantum computing becoming a reality, it’s not too early for business leaders to consider how it will encourage digital investment, reshape industries and ignite innovation. Therefore, having a thorough understanding of quantum applications is essential for positioning a business to gain a competitive edge.

Increase In Deepfake Attacks and How Enterprises Can Prepare

Deepfake technology utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to manipulate or create synthetic audio, video and images that appear authentic. Deepfakes are commonly featured in entertainment and politics to spread false information and propaganda. For instance, deepfake has been used to show a celebrity or leader saying something that they didn’t, and this creates fake news.

Unfortunately, in deepfakes, cybercriminals have found a new tool for cyberattacks. Cybercriminals are now using deepfakes to pose a variety of enterprise risks.

How Cybercriminals Are Using Deepfakes

Deepfake technology is now used to create scams, hoaxes and false claims that undermine and destabilize organizations. For instance, a manipulated video might show a senior executive associated with fake news, such as admitting to a financial crime or spreading misinformation about a company’s products. Such corporate sabotage costs a lot of time and money to disprove and can impact a business’s reputation.

Another way businesses can be negatively impacted is through social engineering attacks such as phishing, which relies on impersonation to compromise an email. Similarly, social engineering using deepfakes can feature voice or video impersonations. A good example of such an impersonation was reported in The Wall Street Journal, in which fraudsters used AI to mimic a CEO’s voice. This incident happened in March 2019, when criminals impersonated a chief executive’s voice to direct a payment of $243,000.

Cybercriminals are able to execute social engineering attacks by accessing readily available information online. They can research a business, employees and executives. The criminal will even use an actual event picked from social media – for instance, a financial director who is just returned to work from a holiday – to sound more legitimate.

This emerging security threat is also made possible by the development of video editing software that can swap faces and alter facial expressions. Such developments have enabled deepfakes to fool biometric checks (like facial recognition) to verify user identities.

The deepfake cybersecurity threat has become such a concern that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a Private Industry Notification (PIN) cautioning companies of the possible use of fake content in a newly defined cyberattack vector referred to as Business Identity Compromise (BIC).

How to be Prepared and Protect Against Deepfakes

Deepfake videos and images can be recognized by checking for unnatural body shape, lack of blinking in videos, unnatural facial expressions, abnormal skin color, bad lip-syncing, odd lighting, awkward head and body positioning, etc. However, cybercriminals keep evolving and creating more convincing deepfakes.

Other measures introduced to combat deepfakes include creating solutions that detect deepfakes. There also was an introduction of deepfake legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December 2019.

Unfortunately, this has not been enough, and enterprises have the task of helping reduce the impact of these attacks. The following measures can help:

  1. Use anti-fake technologies
    Businesses should explore automated technologies that help identify deepfake attacks. They should also consider watermarking images and videos.
  2. Enforce robust security protocols
    Implement security protocols to help avoid deepfakes, such as automatic checks for any procedure involving payments. For instance, putting systems that allow verification through other mediums.
  3. Develop new security standards
    As security threats keep evolving, so should security standards within a company. For instance, introduce new security standards involving phone and video calls.
  4. Training and awareness
    Enterprises should enforce regular training and raise awareness among employees, management, and shareholders on the dangers of deepfakes to businesses. When all involved parties are trained to identify deepfake social engineering efforts, this will help reduce the chances of falling victim.
  5. Keep user data private
    Deepfake attackers use the information found in public domains such as social media. Although not a failsafe procedure, company profiles can be made private. Users also should avoid adding or connecting with strangers they don’t know and posting too much personal information online.
  6. Disinformation response policy
    Some deepfake incidents are out of control for an enterprise, such as fake videos purporting to be from top management. However, establishing a disinformation response plan will help in cases of a reputation crisis. This should include monitoring and curating all multimedia output – which will help present original content to the public as authentic content.

Conclusion

Deepfake is an emerging cybersecurity concern that requires enterprises to be aware of its potential threats and stay prepared. Although it might be possible to identify a poorly generated deepfake with the naked eye, the technology continues to advance. In response, countermeasures must keep pace.

Risk of Browser Extensions and How to Stay Safe

Risk of Browser ExtensionsWeb browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge, among others, play an essential role in enabling access to websites on the internet. Most browsers allow users to install extensions, also referred to as add-ons or plug-ins. These extensions are applications or small software modules that add functionality and other useful features to a browser.

By means of the extensions, users can carry out various tasks such as password management, cookie management, ad blocking, interface modification, productivity tracking, grammar and spell-checking, etc.

However, although the extensions offer different useful functionalities, cybercriminals have taken advantage of them, creating a security risk to users and their data.

The Need to Beware of Browser Extensions

Browsers enable websites to collect information such as viewing history, adding cookies, etc. Also, when installing the extensions, some require to be allowed various permissions, like the ability to read or change data. For instance, according to a recent study by Talon, a digital security company, most Chrome Web Store extensions (62.43 percent of extensions) require dangerous permissions, including permission to read or change user data and activity. This means that an extension can see the sites visited, keystrokes, login credentials and private data, such as payment card details.

Since this information is readily available on a user’s web browser, cybercriminals can use a malicious extension to collect the data for their gain. At the same time, the data collected is sold without user consent or knowledge and used by third-party data brokers to send users tailor-made ads.

Although not all browser extensions are a security risk, some might be built to impersonate legitimate extensions, especially those from third-party resources. In other cases, legitimate extensions have been compromised or bought by a developer who uses them for malicious purposes.

Some browser add-ons are built to download malware onto your device, redirect search traffic to malicious websites or download ad ware and Trojan horse viruses.

The extensions can automatically update without requiring any action from a user. This means that if a legitimate extension is compromised, it can be used to install malware without user knowledge. Even secure extensions are prone to attacks or can be compromised, enabling attackers to gain access to data stored by browsers.

Additionally, malicious extensions can be built to bypass fraud detection by official Web stores. For instance, in 2020, Google removed over 500 extensions from its web store that violated policies, with some already having infected users and stolen their data. This followed the discovery of some malicious extensions that users had already downloaded.

A recent report released by Kaspersky, a cybersecurity firm, shows just how dangerous malicious add-ons are. After the firm analyzed data from January 2020 to June 2022, it discovered that over this time frame, 4.3 million users were attacked by adware hiding in browser extensions. This put adware as the highest representative of browser extension risks, with malware coming second. The report also indicates that Kaspersky products prevented more than 6 million users from downloading adware, malware or riskware disguised as browser extensions.

Such figures from just one cybersecurity firm are worrying, considering the study focused only on users that use their security solutions. This creates a need for users to be more vigilant when using browser extensions.

How to Make Sure Browser Extensions Are Safe

There are various ways to help reduce the risks posed by browser extensions:

  1. Ensure the extension is from an official web store. Since these extensions can also be compromised, it is best to find out more information about the developer.
  2. Check reviews as they help to know what other users think of the extension and if there have been any complaints. However, users should be cautious of identical comments or too many 5-star reviews, as these could be fake.
  3. Check whether the extension is updated regularly. An extension last updated many years ago might not be reliable.
  4. Review extension permissions for each extension.
  5. Check that you are not installing clones of the original extension. For instance, if you search for an extension, you can find other similar ones that look legit.
  6. Uninstall browser extensions that you don’t recognize or those you no longer need.
  7. Use browsers that have the features you want.
  8. Install reliable antivirus software that will help spot malicious activities or applications.

Conclusion

Browser extensions play an important role in the user browsing experience. Although not all extensions are dangerous, users must conduct due diligence to ensure they install legitimate extensions.

What Are NFTs and How Can Businesses Benefit?

What is an NFTNon-fungible tokens (NFTs) are rising in demand, and some brands are already generating great results in their campaigns and providing a unique experience to customers. As the hype around NFTs continues, businesses need to understand how they can benefit.

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a valuable digital asset created using blockchain. Unlike cryptocurrencies, NFTs are not mutually interchangeable as each NFT represents a different asset with a different value. Hence, an NFT verifies the authenticity of a non-fungible asset. This means that the purchaser of the asset/product can only use a product. Unlike other digital products, an NFT can’t be duplicated and sold. This is because the non-fungible asset is made into a token with a digital certificate of ownership, creating authenticity and credibility. NFTs could include videos, music, physical products, services, documents, artwork, and even memes.

A non-fungible asset’s value depends on various factors, such as underlying value, ownership history, perception of the buyer, future value, etc.

How NFTs Have Been Used

So far, some industries are already reaping benefits from NFTs. Various cases of NFTs can be found in gaming, music, fashion, sports, and virtual real estate.

The growth of NFTs has been attributed to the fact that humans like to collect things, and since NFTs are designed to be scarce digital assets, this contributes to the high prices. According to research conducted in March 2021 by Morning Consult, a global decision intelligence company, about half of the people who identified themselves as avid physical collectors were interested in NFTs. In addition, users have more control over the asset bought because it cannot be used in any other way or duplicated, making it more valuable.

It might not be obvious to most when NFTs are worth an investment. However, looking at NFTs that have already been sold, this can present an opportunity that businesses should not ignore. For instance, the first tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was sold for over $2.9 million in March 2022. The Nike brand also has been making headlines with its virtual sneakers, with one selling at $134,000.

With such news making the headlines, businesses may wonder how they can benefit from NFTs. 

How Can a Business Benefit from NFTs?

Businesses still hesitant about adopting new technologies should start considering creating NFTs that align with their brand image. Below are some ways in which a business can benefit:

1. Brand Visibility

Aside from digital marketing, NFTs provide another way businesses and corporations can drive attention to their brand. For instance, by creating a digital version of your products, you expose it to NFT enthusiasts, some of who might not be aware of your products. NFTs also can be incorporated as part of your brand storytelling, creating unique experiences for your customers, consequently increasing consumer engagements.

2. Authenticity

Many businesses undergo massive losses of revenue due to counterfeit products. With NFTs, businesses can ascertain the authenticity of their products and services. A digital certificate is issued with every transaction and a record is kept on the blockchain. A customer can check the authenticity since the blockchain can be traced to the original seller.

3. Additional Revenue Stream

Businesses can use NFTs as an additional source of income by selling digital forms of their products or services. One way to do this is by creating an early access opportunity before the official product launches, creating a buzz and ensuring the NFT value will rise.

4. Customer Loyalty Program

The versatile nature of NFTs makes them ideal for use in loyalty programs. The tokens can be used as medals for loyal clients or as membership tokens.

5. Prevent Ticket Scams

Many people fall victim to online ticket scams where they buy fake discounted tickets or duplicate tickets of an original event ticket. The money collected doesn’t go to the business, which also affects the event organizers. Customers also risk their credit card information being stolen by scammers. However, turning a ticket into an NFT makes it easy to verify its authenticity and even prevent ticket black markets.

6. Managing Supply Chain

NFTs are positively disrupting the supply chain. By the use of blockchain technology, it’s now easy to trace the entire process of a product lifecycle, from raw material, transportation, manufacturing, and distribution up to the end consumer. Hence, businesses interested in improving transparency and accountability can embrace NFTs to automate their supply chain.

Conclusion

NFT technology is relatively new, and its practical use is still limited. However, the fact that people are willing to spend on them is reason enough why any business should consider leveraging NFTs in its marketing strategies to help boost brand engagement and drive sales. 

What Does the Metaverse Mean for Businesses

Metaverse for BusinessesMetaverse has become a buzzword with much debate on its potential implications once it is fully realized. As far as businesses are concerned, the metaverse presents new opportunities and challenges, especially for marketing, branding and communication professionals.

Understanding Metaverse

Metaverse became a hot topic thanks to Facebook announcing its rebrand to Meta in October 2021. However, the metaverse is not new and can be traced back to 1992 in the fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. Stephenson used the term to refer to a virtual world where people can do different activities.

As the internet moves to a new iteration as Web 3.0, different players are working toward creating their metaverse – or rather, a unified virtual space. This virtual environment is intended to be used to carry out activities such as playing games, attending meetings, buying digital goods and services, tourism, education and even for work.

Although metaverse might seem like a futuristic notion that will require massively advanced technologies, its foundational elements are already in place. This is because it’s enabled by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Some users, especially gamers, have had experiences with virtual reality and augmented technologies. Some online retailers already use augmented reality on their e-commerce platforms to help shoppers experience a product before ordering it.

However, metaverse technology seeks to connect all of these separate apps and platforms to create a continuous experience that will integrate audiences and elements from different platforms into one. The metaverse will be characterized by a boundless and decentralized virtual economy and immersive social experiences.

It is not possible yet to gauge how disruptive the metaverse will be, but one sure thing is that it will introduce new ways of doing things. As has already been witnessed, to keep up with trends, businesses had to adapt to technologies such as social media platforms even when they were initially created for social interaction. Hence, businesses need to be prepared.

Metaverse in Business

As any new technology helps early adopters gain a significant advantage over competitors, metaverse will be no different. However, it may initially favor large businesses that can afford to take risks and have budgets to invest in enabling requirements. Despite this, different-sized businesses should get ready to adjust their marketing strategies to the virtual economy.

There are predictions that the metaverse could generate vast revenue to the tune of $1 trillion. Hence, the metaverse has a massive business opportunity, including advertising, demand for new hardware, virtual events, e-commerce, etc.

As an example of the readiness for companies to adopt metaverse, consider Nike. The brand has already taken steps into the metaverse by filing for trademark applications, indicating its intention to make and sell virtual branded sneakers and apparel.

Businesses will benefit differently from the metaverse. For instance, companies manufacturing computer chips and servers stand a good chance for a significant gain to their businesses. So will cloud service providers that will be vital for the metaverse virtual worlds.

Manufacturers also will use the metaverse to create digital models of their products using digital twins technology (a virtual representation of a physical object or process). This will help adjust manufacturing processes, carry out quality control, product demos, and simulate the supply chain.

Remote work that was highly adopted due to the recent pandemic will be enhanced by the metaverse. It will be possible to have co-working spaces and carry out virtual trainings and simulations.

It also will help promote physical businesses. By interacting with objects in 3D form, shoppers can try on clothes online, check out houses, cars, etc. The ability to shop virtually means that businesses can design brands to suit different customer needs and increase retail sales.

Such possibilities mean that marketers will need to research customer behavior and preferences in the virtual space. This will require businesses to set up metaverse teams if they want to remain competitive. This is especially necessary to reach customers where they spend their time.

On the downside, there are concerns about privacy issues and data harvesting – like any other technology. The decentralized characteristic of a true metaverse also means it will be challenging to regulate. Such cases introduce risks to businesses. Nevertheless, such risks have never stopped businesses from adopting new technologies.

Conclusion

Customer experience is vital in any business. For businesses to continue maintaining long-term relationships with customers, they may have to adapt and use virtual avatars to serve as customer service agents. Thus, businesses need to be more innovative to tie existing communication channels to the metaverse channel. They can do this by formulating an entry plan to the metaverse while ensuring a balance between opportunities and risks.

Importance of Cloud Accounting Certification

Cloud Accounting CertificationCertifications are not a new thing in the accounting industry. However, with new technology trends, accounting departments are faced with the challenge of taking courses in technology in order to carry out their tasks. Many businesses are ditching desktop-based accounting software and turning to cloud-based software. This requires that the users be well-versed with necessary skills to use the cloud accounting solution.

What is Cloud Accounting?

Among the cloud-based solutions that businesses have adapted is cloud accounting. Cloud accounting has all the functionalities of desktop accounting. However, in cloud accounting all processes are carried out online where the data is stored on cloud servers.

Cloud accounting offers businesses various benefits, such as the ability to access the system anytime and from anywhere as long as there is internet access. It also offers access to real-time information, online payments, latest software versions, easier compliance and scalability, among others. At the same time, cloud accounting solutions also allow remote working.

As businesses strive to gain from the benefits offered by cloud accounting solutions, a new challenge arises: lack of skilled employees. Hence the need to upskill.

Why it is Important to Have Cloud Accounting Certification

As cloud accounting becomes highly adopted, there is no doubt that there will be an increase in demand for certification for individuals as well as for organizations.

For individuals, this is important as it will indicate they have the competence to use the cloud accounting software. This is an added advantage to retaining a job or for individuals looking to take up jobs in the accounting field. Employers also could look for certification as proof that an employee already has skills on the type of cloud systems the business uses.

A certified employee will be able to set up the initial business data on a cloud accounting system. They also will know how to handle daily transactions online such as payments, receipts, and invoices, among other tasks. Other important transactions handled by cloud accounting solutions include bank reconciliations, reporting, payroll administration, and budgeting.

Since cloud accounting uses advanced technology like artificial intelligence, the employees will acquire more advanced skills, including financial analysis and cash flow forecasting.

Certified employees will have a better understanding of security levels in the cloud, considering that security is one of the most important issues to businesses.

Apart from learning new skills, certification will enhance workplace performance, as users will be required to complete courses and exams before getting certified.

Again, employees who upskill are less likely to worry about being replaced and, in any case, new knowledge gives employees a chance to negotiate higher pay.

When it comes to businesses, having certified employees means that they can handle projects or tasks successfully as they have a common understanding of cloud accounting systems. This ensures a business of efficiency and reduced operational costs as it can implement a standardized system. Furthermore, customers prefer working with qualified professionals – and this can be demonstrated through certification.

Since cloud computing is a core competency for businesses today, a certification is not only suitable for bookkeepers and accountants, but also for business owners, managers, CFOs and anyone who will be using cloud accounting solutions.

And with trends such as remote accounting and cloud-based accounting services, the certification helps to become future-ready.

Conclusion

The benefits offered by cloud accounting promise to transform the accounting industry through bookkeeping efficiency and streamlined financial administration, as well as provide real-time information. However, the success of these cloud-based systems depends on the users having the appropriate skills. As new technologies emerge, there is a fear of been replaced. But by upskilling, businesses can attend to clients while employees not only get to retain their jobs, but also offer more value.

2022 Technology Trends for The Accounting Industry

Technology has had a major impact on the accounting industry. Gone are days when technology was a second thought and accountants preferred the traditional methods to which they were accustomed. As we start another year, technology is also progressing rapidly. The recent business disruption by the COVID-19 pandemic also has contributed to the acceleration in tech adoption. A major lesson learned from the events of the past two years is the need for digital transformation and prioritizing technologies that will help businesses remain relevant.

Since the accounting industry plays a crucial role in running businesses, it is important to be aware of relevant technologies that will impact their future work.

Remote Accounting 

Remote work is picking up, and accountants have not been left behind. This creates a need for the accounting department to rethink their workflow and optimize hybrid arrangements that combine working in the office and remote work. Embracing hybrid arrangements will help avoid losing employees and enable access to a pool of employees with specialized skills as they can work from anywhere.

Cloud-Based Accounting Services

Cloud-based accounting solutions have enabled accounting services to be provided virtually. This has grown exponentially with the COVID-19 pandemic. Software solution providers are expected to continue developing innovative solutions that will enable remote accounting.

The need for cloud-based accounting services also will be heightened as more businesses seek to cut operational costs. With cloud-based solutions, they can pay for only what they use and not necessarily make heavy investments.

Increased Automation of Accounting Tasks

Automating accounting tasks has helped replace many time-consuming aspects of an accountant’s daily work. It is expected that more tasks beyond just data entry and calculations will be automated. As more accountants realize the benefits of automation, such as reducing errors in payments, ease of invoicing, less ambiguity, enabling compliance, etc., providers will develop more automated solutions.

The accounting industry has not yet fallen victim to the great resignation witnessed last year, where the labor department reported millions of people quitting their jobs or leaving the workforce entirely. Such occurrences will increase robotic process automation (RPA) to include more efficient automation for critical functions such as payroll, purchases, invoices and payments.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technologies

Although cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies have been around for a while, they are still difficult for most to figure out. However, there is an increased uptake of these technologies. Some countries already have allowed cryptocurrency as a legal transaction currency. As this trend continues to grow, accountants and auditors are tasked to understand these technologies so that they can offer sophisticated service to their firms or clients who invest in cryptocurrencies.

In other areas, blockchain technologies will continue being utilized in validation services such as audit and risk analysis, and balancing and sustaining accounting records.

Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning 

According to a CNBC TEC survey, 90 percent of executives surveyed agreed that machine learning is critical for companies in 2022, with 20 percent saying they would be willing to invest money in this technology.

There will be more adoption of sophisticated AI solutions that offer better insights, help make data-driven decisions, and carry out basic tasks that take up a lot of an accountant’s time.

Machine learning will be used to develop algorithms that learn patterns in accounting tasks to help reduce mistakes early and avoid wasting time looking for errors. It also will be useful for audits and predictive analytics to forecast future trends.

Although AI and ML may not work well in areas that require creativity and intuition, they can help aid decision-making.

Data Security

All the advanced technologies mentioned above offer promising benefits. However, they also present a new problem in data security. For instance, remote accounting adds a vulnerability that allows cybercriminals to gain access to a company network. Considering that the accounting department holds crucial financial data that attackers target, security is critical for any business.

With cybercriminals using advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, it is now more important than ever to harden access to corporate data. Therefore, there will be more defensive cybersecurity services to handle the rise in security issues that come with technology growth.

Conclusion 

As we forge ahead in the new year, one thing is certain: Technology will continue to be a main driver in the accounting industry. This creates a need for upskilling to evolve with new accounting roles. It also helps to be conversant with technologies that will help meet client demands. 

Considerations When Automating Accounts Payables

Automating Accounts PayablesAccounts payables (AP) is a process in the financial department that can be inconsistent and burdensome. However, today’s workforce has driven AP transformation – especially with remote working. Some businesses do not have much choice but to accept automation while others may have realized the need to automate accounts payables due to the numerous benefits that come with it.

Before hastily choosing automation, it’s important to make some careful considerations to avoid mistakes that come with the improper implementation of any business accounting technology. Here are a few guiding considerations:

  1. What is the cost-benefit analysis? Any new system comes with its expenses and as such, it is important to measure its return on investment (ROI). This can be calculated using the expected benefits. By conducting a cost-benefit analysis, it will help you know how long it will take for an investment to pay for itself and help in the investment approval for businesses with senior decision-makers.
  2. Understand and document the existing AP processes: Before settling on an automation solution, it is best to first fully understand the existing process. You must examine the format that invoices are received on, how they are numbered, where they are sent for approval and how they are recorded. Carrying out this documentation will help to identify the major pain points of the AP process that you would like to improve, such as manual data entry, missing invoices, discrepancies and more. 
    Understanding the existing process also helps in selecting the best solution that will not destabilize your entire workflow.
  3. Processing Historical Documents: Consider what to do with invoices that already exist in employee workstations or shared drives as they need to be moved to the new system’s repository. Having these documents stored in a central location in an indexed manner helps to ease their retrieval – especially during an audit.
  4. Types of the Available Solution: There are many available solutions, both cloud-based and premise-based. Some of them are ready-to-use, while others can be customized. Each of these solutions comes with varying modules and functionalities. This requires that you carry out thorough research from different AP automation solution providers. Some important features to look for include those that integrate with existing ERP or finance systems; are customizable, flexible and can scale as your business grows; include security features; use the latest technology such as artificial intelligence; and produce reports.
  5. Engage with a Vendor: After selecting several vendors whose solution sounds like a good fit, the next step is to request a discovery call or demo. At this time, the vendor should review your business AP processes and integration issues. This will help to find a vendor that can meet your specific requirements.
  6. Metrics: Have in place measures that will be used to check whether the AP automation meets the expected benefits. Some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be tracked include time spent on each invoice, time taken to approve invoices, cost per invoice and number of payment errors.
  7. Change Management: It may be easy to install a new AP solution, but its success is dependent on proper change management. As happens every time new technology is implemented, users can be resistant when they are used to doing things a certain way. There are also fears of losing jobs or being replaced by technology. Hence, the users must be involved in the change process. If users resist, even investing in the best solution will not help. Users need to understand that automating the AP process will give them time to shift to higher-value work. They need to understand the advanced workflows and adjust to their roles under the new automated solution.

Bottom Line 

To find the best solution, you should prioritize the most crucial needs for your business. The major needs are accuracy, security, customization, integration with existing systems, data transparency and saving time.

Remember, automation does not automatically solve all your accounts payable problems. You need to first ensure that your AP process is optimized, as automation adds value to streamline processes.

Why you should automate your accounts payables

automate your accounts payablesAccounts payable (AP) is a crucial function to any business, as errors in the process put a company in problems. Although many businesses still use manual methods as they find the system to work fine, it requires a lot of precision from the accounts payable team. There are better – and more efficient – ways to manage AP through automation.

Challenges of the Process 

An AP team is responsible for receiving invoices, reviewing invoices, approving invoices, and paying suppliers and vendors. Some AP departments also handle other functions, depending on the nature of the business. However, AP can be a time-consuming, strenuous and paper-intensive process.

An AP team helps a business control costs, maintain a good supplier relationship and analyze spending. Various challenges might indicate that your business is using outdated practices. Such challenges might include:

  • Dealing with double payments
  • Difficulties in tracking invoices, especially when your business has many transactions
  • Forgotten payments
  • Fraud
  • Disappearing invoices
  • Missing purchase orders
  • Poor business reputation as suppliers lose trust in your business
  • Negative cash flow
  • Too much paperwork taking up employees’ time to sort and organize
  • Skipped processes
  • Manual processes that result in errors and delays

These challenges not only affect your business negatively, but they also affect your supplier’s business. Consider that late payments cost small businesses $3 trillion per year, which means your late payments create a domino effect. Your business will also be subjected to late payment fines.

To avoid the challenges mentioned above, you should automate the accounts payable process.

Accounts Payable Automation 

Automation removes slow and repetitive manual tasks and lets you digitally submit and approve purchase orders and invoices.

However, when making any investment, businesses are more concerned about the return on investment (RIO). Rest assured that through automation, you can achieve ROI through reduced employment costs, fewer late fees, savings on invoice processing costs, and reduced losses caused by errors, among other non-financial benefits.

Following are the benefits achieved by streamlining the accounts payable workflow through automation:

  1. Get a more accurate picture of your finances – using automation software gives you access to reporting capability that makes it is easy to get a quick overview of business spending.
  2. Have a better command over cash flow – manage cash better with the help of reports that can be created and reviewed in real-time, which improves AP team visibility and forecasting. Automation will help in invoice prioritization as well.
  3. Improve user productivity – employees do not have to waste time sorting documents. With the data centrally stored, employees only need to run a query to find the necessary invoice or purchase order.
  4. Enable remote work – using cloud-based software makes remote access possible and enables approvals to be done remotely.
  5. Auditing is easy – all data is stored in a central database and can be easily accessed.
  6. Cost-effective – it enables timely payments and helps avoid unnecessary penalties and interest fees.
  7. Reduce overhead staff costs – automation will help reduce the accounts payable team, with no need to hire more staff even when a business grows.
  8. Dashboard and analytics tools – allow access to separate dashboards for the team and approvers, each using individual login credentials. At the same time, analytics gives a quick overview of the whole process.
  9. No manual data entry – scan documents to capture data and avoid manual data entry.
  10. Standardized accounts payable workflow – ensures consistency even if your business has different teams responsible for handling the invoicing data.
  11. Payment reminders – set your system to have reminders when pay dates are near. This will help avoid late or forgotten payments.
  12. Qualify for discounts – with a smooth workflow, the accounts payable cycle will require less time, and you may qualify for discounts from suppliers for early payments.

Conclusion 

A disorganized accounts payable process can run your business down. Choosing the right AP automation software will help improve accuracy, efficiency, quality and speed for your business accounts payable function. Your business also will have a balance between a healthy cash flow and, at the same time, maintaining a good supplier relationship.

Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing Business Accounting Technology

Business Accounting TechnologyChoosing to implement new technology for your accounting needs is a big step toward improving your business. Accounting technology helps streamline the accounting system, thereby offering various benefits. However, poor implementation can impact your business negatively. To make your implementation a success, there are several mistakes that you must avoid.

Importance of New Accounting Technology 

Before looking at the potential mistakes, it is important to understand why businesses implement new technologies. Technology advancement has played a great role in various life and business aspects. In businesses accounting, technology such as computerized systems help easily track and record financial transactions. 

Various types of technologies have impacted business accounting, such as cloud-based systems, mobile accounting, big data, artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotic process automation, etc.

Businesses that have successfully implemented some of these technologies have witnessed improved accuracy, faster processing, forecasting, analytics and better external reporting, among other benefits. 

As a result, more business owners wish to enjoy the same benefits as their counterparts. Unfortunately, rushing to implement a system will end up causing more harm to your business than what you are trying to change. Therefore, being prepared before the implementation will save you a lot of trouble. 

In a continuously changing technology landscape, businesses want to remain competitive and do not have much choice but to keep up with technology trends. 

Mistakes that Result in Poor Accounting Technology Implementation 

  • Failure to define your business’ specific requirements
    Rushing to implement a technology solution because a counterpart is benefiting from it is a bad idea. Remember each business is unique and, before implementing a new technology, you should first consider your kind of business. Identify functions to automate and research suitable systems that fit your needs. Failing to do this means you could end up settling for a generic solution that will not properly address your business needs.
  • Failing to plan the implementation process 
    Implementing new technology involves more than installations, configurations, setting up necessary devices and adding users to the new system. It requires – among other things – focus, resources, accountability and follow-up for its success. 
  • Failure to include users in the implementation process
    Users can determine how successful a new system will be. Involving users will help get the business process workflow right, and also plays a part in avoiding resistance to the new solution. If employees are opposed to the implementation, it will fail. 
  • Assuming it is a one-time cost 
    Failing to anticipate post-implementation costs may result in abandoning the new systems you implemented. Any new technology always comes with other hidden costs, such as maintenance fees, subscription fees, training, etc. Find out the involved costs to help you budget properly. 
  • Failure to properly train users 
    Many times, user training is overlooked to cut costs or with an assumption that they will learn on the go. Having the users properly trained will ensure only minimum support is necessary. All users should be well trained before the vendor or consultants finish with the implementation. Continuous training should be carried out to ensure that users leverage advanced features of a system that will help them be more productive.
  • Failure to consult
    Once you decide to implement new technology, most likely other businesses have done it, too. By consulting with other businesses, you will learn what has worked or not. You also may want to check vendor reviews, which can be readily found online. As more businesses choose to outsource accounting, it is best to consult on technologies to use for integration issues. This will help avoid the need to implement different solutions. 
  • Failure to consider security issues 
    In accounting, security is vital as you are dealing with personal and financial data. A data breach can result in financial loss or reputation damage. Consider your internal security, train your employees on security, and implement a security policy. Ensure that the vendors you choose to partner with prioritize security.

Take Away 

One vital point to remember when you want to implement an accounting technology is not to rush to keep up with trends without proper planning. A good implementation strategy will help you avoid the above-mentioned mistakes, ensuring your business enjoys productivity and workflow improvement.