Accountants and finance professionals must embrace digital technologies

Head of ACCA SA, Nadine Kater cautions that accountants and finance professionals need to be aware of the radical changes wrought by many emerging and converging technologies.

Darwin famously said: “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

New digital technologies are reshaping lifestyles and business. These technologies are expected to have an even greater impact over the next twenty years.

Accountants and finance professionals are trusted advisors to business. In order to assume their leadership role, they need to ensure that they have a broad understanding of the emerging technologies and the new skills that will be in demand as a result. They also need to understand the challenges and opportunities created by the new technologies.

ACCA has recently released a research report entitled: “Digital Darwinism: thriving in the face of technology change.” The report can be downloaded from the ACCA global website:www.accaglobal.com

The report identifies the following ten technologies as having the potential to reshape the profession and the business landscape significantly over the next decade and beyond: mobile, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics, cybersecurity, educational, cloud, payment systems, virtual and augmented reality, digital service delivery and social.

Key impacts include: faster and easier access to technology resources; a more connected world workforce, an opportunity to automate more business processes and services; de-skilling of the accountancy profession; availability of vast amounts of data; enhanced compliance and decision-making; more transparency; challenges to data security and sovereignty; and the separation of skill and expertise from professionals.

Over the past decade a ‘new normal’ has emerged. While it is not possible to predict the future with absolute accuracy, it is clear that the new technologies create challenges and opportunities.

Accountants and finance professionals need to be able to anticipate the changing needs of business and the impact of big data, cloud, mobile and social platforms, as well as the challenges around cybercrime, digital service delivery and artificial intelligence.

Accountants and finance professionals need to be open to change; they need to be able to identify the actions that they are able to take in order to minimise the potential negative impacts and maximise the positive aspects of digital technology. A failure to do so could result in them becoming casualties of Digital Darwinism.

Nadine Kater
Head of ACCA SA

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