Technology & Innovation

6 ways IoT will improve accounting

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As of this year, 20 billion devices are expected to be connected globally. That stat is impressive—but it’s not nearly as exciting as the value these devices could add to your company’s bottom line if you use them strategically. From mobile phones to cars, planes, machines, and more, the data these connected devices are harvesting can be a game changer in cost, productivity, and cash flow for an accounting team.

Don’t believe IoT will improve accounting? Consider the following:

No audits—ever

If you’re on the finance side of any company, you know the pain of preparing for an audit. But imagine if your connected ledgers, journal entries, donations, and other transactions were tracked, sorted and verified on the spot, rather than months later. Blockchain is already starting to take advantage of this technology. Imagine the massive amounts of time, paperwork, and stress of knowing the source of every financial entry and how it got there. Indeed, the IoT doesn’t just enable things. It allows you to process, consolidate, and analyze, often in real time. Leveraging connected tools will take the stress off of CFOs. It will also lead to tighter books overall.

Optimizes costs—and time

Face it: we’re all trying to reduce overhead. By now we know connected buildings can help save on energy costs. But did you also know the IoT can help you improve workflows in places and times humans often miss? By knowing what and where your employees are, you can analyze their downtime, their most productive hours, and areas in which certain work might be best handed off to another, more productive employee. It sounds like creepy big brother, but if explained to employees correctly, that information is power. It is the kind of information that turns your company into a well-oiled machined.

Track assets and inventory

Inventory tracking can be a pain. From small internal inventory, like tracking shared devices in the office, to tracking inventory being shipped around the globe, it can get confusing. By connecting devices to the IoT or equipping inventory with RFID chips, you’ll know where they are at all times—whether they’re in use—and who has them (among other data). Talk about efficient asset management. The same goes for retail inventory. Forget employees counting products on shelves. By creating “smart” shelving or packaging, you can instantly find an accurate inventory of any item at any time. With this information, you can predict whether or not you will need to order less or more of a certain product, preventing unused inventory from going to waste.

Optimize performance—and satisfaction

As noted above, we’ve all heard about the IoT being able to help with predictive maintenance on machines and efficiencies in logistics. But consider for a moment how those changes improve customer satisfaction—and lead to a better bottom line. For instance, Rolls Royce’s smart planes are so accurate they can schedule maintenance far in advance. For any plane passenger who has experienced the pain of a flight delay due to unscheduled maintenance, you know how amazing the idea of an always-ready, always present aircraft could be. What if the technology that was used in those machines could be used in warehouses? Or cars in the field? Or devices used by employees? Accounting departments would have a better idea of how to allocate budgets if they knew what was needing to be fixed. This also results in less downtime and high productivity and ultimately customer satisfaction.

Provide more accurate quotes

If you’ve ever done freelance work, you know the pain of bidding too low on a project that goes on far too long. But with the IoT, historical analytics pulled from past jobs can help create an incredibly accurate quote, calculating how much manpower, machine use, and time you will need to get the job done well. No more unpaid hours = happier accounting teams and executives.

Keep employees healthier

If your employees use wearable devices, you can gain huge insights into their workday. Are they too sedentary? Are they getting enough breaks and physical activity? Wearables can help you use this data to build a culture with happier and healthier employees, fewer sick days, and less turnover—all of which impact the bottom line.

Yes, your company might be a few years away from experiencing the full benefits of the IoT. In fact, your experience might even be a little messy or uncoordinated as you first enter the connected universe. Do not fret—the benefits far outweigh the initial overwhelm of connecting your entire building, employee base, and devices with IoT. In fact, I’m guessing, you’ll go from workforce to workhorse in no time.