The global and Singapore accountancy profession will be impacted significantly by 10 technology trends, claims a joint report from the Accountancy Futures Academy of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) called “Digital Darwinism: Thriving in the Face of Technology Change.”
The top 10 technologies with the potential to reshape the accountancy profession and business landscape considerably are:
1. Mobile: Anywhere, anytime access to broadband connectivity from a range of devices, wireless networks, operating systems, and applications.
2. Big Data: The massive quantity and variety of structured and unstructured data from internet-connected systems, devices and physical objects.
3. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: The broad range of machines and computer systems that demonstrate limited characteristics of intelligence.
4. Cyber Security: Protection from new forms of cyber risk, attack, crime and terrorism caused by increased reliance on personal and professional digital devices and data.
5. Educational: Trends and tools that are changing and enhancing educational achievements, developments, techniques and possibilities.
6. Cloud: Internet-based technology resources – such as software applications, computing power and data storage – provided remotely as a service.
7. Payment Systems: New, evolving and emerging internet-enabled software applications, currencies, payment platforms, devices and services.
8. Virtual and Augmented Reality: Technologies that use computer modelling to simulate, overlay and supplement reality and enable people to interact.
9. Digital Service Delivery: New technologies used to provide online, interactive, self-service, business processes, software and services.
10. Social: Technologies that support social interaction and are enabled by communications technology, such as the internet
Informed by interviews with global academics and experts in accountancy and technology, alongside a survey of over 2,100 ACCA and IMA members around the world, the report asked respondents to what extent they expect developments in technology to transform the way accountants and the finance function do business over the next decade.
The report also asserts that advances in technology will also demand new skills and competencies from accountants and finance professionals, from change management to knowledge of data extraction tools in the mining of business intelligence.
Looking at specific technologies, 84 percent of respondents in the Asia Pacific region – including Singapore - say that mobile technology will have a large impact on their business in the years ahead, compared with 95 percent in Australia, the highest score in the world, and only 63 percent of those in the Middle East.
When asked about the impact of big data on business, 76 percent of Asia Pacific respondents say this will be influential, compared with 91 percent of Australians and only 52 percent of those in the UK.
Asia Pacific respondents also said that big data would demand new skills, with 79 per cent saying that the profession will need to use tools to support data modelling and analysis, and require skills for data mining to help with business intelligence.
Only 56 percent of Asia Pacific respondents are also concerned about the risks associated with cybercrime, compared with 74 percent in Africa where concern is the highest. The least worried are Ireland at 35 percent and 27 percent in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Accountants and finance professionals must be open to the changes created by big data, cloud, mobile and social platforms, and face up to the demands of cybercrime, digital service delivery and artificial intelligence," says Ng Boon Yew, Fellow of ACCA and Chair of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy. "The future will not be like the past and we will all need to adapt.”
Looking to the future, the report says there are challenges ahead for the profession. Ng Boon Yew adds: “The profession needs to shape their technological future rather than be shaped by it. The profession needs to be proactive; the changes ahead are an opportunity to redefine roles and the extent to which the profession is involved in short and long-term technology related decisions. They need to adapt to survive – hence the digital Darwinism title for this extensive report.”