This CIMA research analyses how Enterprise Web 2.0 techniques are understood and engaged with by practicing management accountants, how accountants view the current and future prospects of these technologies, how business value is realised from their use, and how such techniques complement and supplement enterprise systems.
- Businesses are confronted with Enterprise Web 2.0 as an emerging set of disruptive technologies characterised by their informality and accessibility.
- The case studies highlight changes in workplace co-ordination and collaboration as a result of employees/accountants using instant messaging (IM), social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and other tools to collaborate and form ad-hoc communities across departmental and organisational boundaries. Nevertheless these changes can only be described as being evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
- Different professional groups are embracing these tools in their interaction with customers (e.g. sales and R&D) however accountants in our research sample are not currently using these technologies to enhance their customer accounting practices.
- Contrary to perceptions that these tools are mainly adopted by the under 30s (Generation Y), the evidence shows these tools are used much more widely in the companies we studied.
- Quantification of the ‘soft’ or intangible benefits of Enterprise Web 2.0 (such as improving co-ordination, knowledge accessibility, and relation building amongst people and teams) remains a challenge for management accountants. Nevertheless, an important and tangible benefit is a reduction in travel costs.
- An implication for management accounting is the emergence of a set of rich tools and techniques to improve co-ordination especially at a distance. These tools have the potential to provide ways to present, annotate and distribute structured accounting data in innovative ways to business managers who are becoming increasingly familiar with social networking technologies.