On Tuesday, the final day of sessions at the 2016 AICPA Spring Council in New Orleans, Mark Koziel, vice president of Firm Services & Global Alliances at the AICPA, discussed the theoretical firms of 2020 and how professionals can stay ahead of the ever-changing business landscape.

While Koziel noted, "it's a lot of fun to watch the change occurring inside the profession," he posed a question to the audience concerning change, asking, "How are we going to stay in front of the change occurring in front of us?"

Koziel noted that technology is the main factor altering the business landscape. As automation keeps replacing routine tasks, he says, higher-order skills will be needed to survive and thrive. He also explained that since technology has increased the availability of knowledge, firms would have to start changing aspect of their business models.

"It's moving from knowledge [based] work to relationship [based] work for clients," he says, when knowledge has become so commonplace for all. "If we were to start our firm today, what would it need to look like to most effectively serve clients?"

Koziel also explained how firms embracing diversity and inclusion are in fact practicing smart business, as there's "an incredibly profitable business case [for] embracing inclusive culture and generational differences" that reflect the current population.

To better prepare their firms for the future, Koziel pointed to two resources. The CPA Horizons 2025 Initiative, which "examined the trends affecting CPAs in their daily work, enlisted opinions on how these trends will impact CPAs in the years ahead, and helped to identify actions the profession could take to meet challenges and leverage opportunities now and in the coming years," per the Initiative's website.

The PCPS Firm inMotion e-Toolkit is an online resource that looks to help firms better prepare for their future by offering a digital checklist to make sure one's business is take the necessary steps in building a future-forward firm that will attract future talent and clients alike.

Koziel ended with a message of collaboration, that in order to best prepare for a successful journey to the future, firms need to work together to make sure they stay ahead of the curve.

"We need your help," he told attendees. "We need everyone to work together for the profession's future." 

For more on the 2016 AICPA Spring Council, follow the event on  Twitter here.