The year ahead will undoubtedly involve a lot of change and uncertainty for Singapore, but how can businesses prepare? They will need to closely track the trends to stay ahead of changes in industry, regulation and policy. Here are five accounting and compliance trends that we think will influence the business environment this year.
Budget 2020: Government ramps up digital push for local companies
Singapore Budget 2020, revealed in February, is a much-needed boost for local businesses. The government is setting aside a whopping S$8.3 billion to help them transform and grow, with an emphasis on enhancing digital connectivity. For those businesses that want to digitise their operations, such as accounting, there’s no better time than now, given initiatives like the Enterprise Grow package.
With this package, businesses can now take advantage of the GoBusiness platform. The platform is a single touchpoint for them to apply for licenses quickly with the Government through the help of digital. The SMEs Go Digital Programme has also been expanded to more sectors. This makes it easier for more companies to adopt pre-approved digital accounting solutions like Xero if they need to.
The initiatives announced as part of the Budget also offer local businesses more support in terms of equity and funding. This includes the additional S$300 million for Startup SG Equity. It allows companies that deal in deep-tech to access more capital. To secure funding quickly, they need to demonstrate complete accuracy and visibility of their accounts, providing financial information in a shorter amount of time.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning: reduce admin tasks
Another trend this year will be the continuing growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Singapore has already made plans to pursue a national AI strategy that will transform the country in the next 10 years. The plan will consist of five national AI projects centred on the sectors of logistics, healthcare, border security, estate management and education management. Famous ex-startup companies like Grab and Lazada are already using AI to transform their everyday operations. Through the use of AI algorithms, Grab is in the process of building richer maps and understanding passengers’ preferences. They are also simulating traffic conditions, analysing driver behaviour and detecting traffic events in real time.
Similarly, AI and machine learning technologies are also being applied in the field of accounting and other services. Working behind the scenes, they already power many Xero services that businesses might use every day, including data capture.
These pesky administrative tasks are automated so businesses can spend more time running their practices. Hours spent on bill and receipt capture, data entry and bank reconciliation are slowly becoming a thing of the past. This frees up time from managing compliance, which businesses can reinvest more strategically elsewhere in the business.
Singapore’s new e-invoicing network: Speed up your payment cycles
In an effort to improve digital connectivity, Budget 2020 highlighted initiatives like the nationwide e-invoicing network. The new system was rolled out by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) early last year. It allows businesses to directly issue invoices in structured digital format from one accounting system to another, facilitating faster payment.
This universal standard in e-invoicing will accelerate invoice processing, validation and payment times. On top of that, the network reduces costs in terms of storage and retrieval of hard copy invoices.It also helps to save the environment by reducing the use of paper. As part of the Peppol e-invoicing network, businesses are able to conduct cross-border transactions seamlessly. This expands their options to grow their presence outside their home country.
Adopting such new universal standards can be seamless. Business owners understandably do not have the time to continuously keep up with evolving regulations. Hence, utilising a software platform like Xero can help them leverage these developments with ease. As software platforms are constantly undergoing development to innovate, they will also be updated based on new regulations and systems. Therefore, businesses can take advantage of its benefits without the hassle of setting up new processes or software.
Rise of super apps: supercharge business transformation
Multi-functional super apps are becoming more pervasive. The likes of WeChat in China and Grab in Southeast Asia have evolved from single-purpose mobile apps into platforms that transform every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s arranging transport, making payments, ordering food or buying goods, there’s barely anything that can’t be performed with a few taps of the phone.
Similarly, in the business world, super apps like Xero transform accounting software into something far beyond a simple bookkeeping solution. Business owners will now find a whole range of cloud services that can make their lives easier. Business features such as inventory management, human resources and payroll management are just the tip of the iceberg. Integration with bank feeds and payment providers also makes it easier for business owners when they need to apply for loans and transact payments. Full visibility of business performance, with financial numbers flowing directly from various sources into a single platform, enables speed and transparency within the organisation. This will have an immense positive impact on the business as a whole.
App integration: smarter, seamless workflows
Super apps typically come with app marketplaces. Xero, for instance, connects with over 800 third party apps.
Businesses can connect these complementary third party apps to allow data and information to flow seamlessly into Xero. This helps businesses solve workflow issues, from managing people and processes, to inventory and everything else.
But with so much choice, how can they decide which apps are most fitting? Thanks to the power of data and insights, the super app offers smart recommendations on the apps or functionalities that are most likely to make the biggest impact based on different business needs. Digital-first accountants have also evolved into business advisors who can then offer strategic guidance on how business owners can build out their own operations platform via app integration. Business owners are then free to focus on understanding and solving their business problems, instead of spending excessive time on identifying the right app.
These top trends will undoubtedly transform the local business landscape. With the right platform that empowers them with great functionalities and insights, business owners will stand a better chance of keeping ahead of these developments as well as remain competitive during challenging economic times.
Stay ahead of 2020’s big trends with business and accounting super app, Xero. Get your free trial today.