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Demystifying new technologies

Apr 07, 2019

Today’s digital economy is transforming traditional business processes. Teresa Campbell looks at seven technologies of which business owners need to be aware.

Making Tax Digital (MTD)

This is a UK Government initiative to make tax administration more efficient and effective. An imminent change under rollout of MTD is that VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold are required to use the MTD service to keep records digitally and use software to submit their VAT returns from 1 April 2019.

Real-time accounting

Many small businesses do not have the resources to employ a full-time accounts team. Real-time accounting is a cost-effective solution which provides up-to-date, reliable information about your business with analysis and access to qualified accounting professionals. Real-time accounting can enhance decision-making and make your business more profitable.

Application Programming Interface

APIs facilitate the exchange of information between different businesses and applications. When you provide an API, you can enhance your ability to grow your business online. For example, your company might provide an API that allows partners to display listings from your product catalogue on their websites. This can increase your ability to reach potential new customers.

You can also benefit from the APIs provided by other businesses. For example, if you have more than one banking account, open banking APIs may allow you to view information from several accounts on the same screen.

Artificial intelligence

Some time ago, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary defined artificial intelligence (AI) as “the performance by computer systems of tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as translation between languages”. Today, AI has many applications in business. For example, AI can deliver increased efficiency by streamlining back office operations (see robotic process automation below) and can also help businesses cut costs by monitoring business spending and highlighting opportunities to make savings.


The idea behind blockchain is to provide a secure distributed ledger managed by a network of computers. In theory, it helps to eliminate fraud and makes transactions easy to track. Blockchain is still at an early stage of development.

Internet of Things (IoT)

More and more devices are connecting to the Internet every day. It is not surprising, therefore, that businesses are increasingly interested in IoT’s ability to generate data which can support their growth and enhance products and services for their customers.

Robotic process automation (RPA)

Like AI, RPA uses computers to mimic human activity. Business applications include the automation of high-volume, repetitive tasks which can save time and reduce costs. RPA’s ability to handle large volumes of data can also enhance a company’s ability to analyse and interpret information which can then be used to further improve or develop the business.

The bottom line

While new technologies deliver new opportunities for many businesses, they also introduce new risks. Business owners should thoroughly research the full implications when contemplating digital/technology projects. Compliance requirements – data privacy and security, in particular – need to be considered because of the lasting impact they can have on your reputation if things go wrong. For more information on any of the topics covered in this short article, please contact our business advisory team.

Teresa Campbell is a Staff Director of PKF-FPM Accountants Limited.