Digital Darwinism

The accountancy profession in India and globally will be impacted significantly by 10 technology trends, claims an in-depth report from ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountant) 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 mobile; big data; artificial intelligence and robotics; cyber security; educational; cloud; payment systems; virtual and augmented reality; digital service delivery and social.

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.

When asked about the impact of big data on business, 77 per cent of South Asian respondents – including India - say this will be influential, compared with 91 per cent of Australians and only 52 per cent of those in the UK. 

South Asian 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 85 per cent saying skills will be needed to deal with data mining to help with business intelligence.

Looking at specific technologies, 67 per cent of respondents in South Asia say that mobile technology will have a large impact on their business in the years ahead, compared to 95 per cent in Australia, the highest score in the world.

65 per cent of South Asian respondents are also concerned about the risks associated with cybercrime, compared to 74 per cent in Africa where concern is the highest. The least worried are Ireland at 35 per cent and 27 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe.

Chris Gentle, Partner and head of research at Deloitte, and member of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy says: “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.  The future will not be like the past and we will all need to adapt.”

Mr Aziz Tayyebi, Head of ACCA India, says: “Accountants and finance professionals in India and the wider South Asian region are influential agents of change – they’re adept at using technology to advance their careers, their client’s prospects and those of their own organisation’s too. This influence works both within and without organisations – 75 per cent of accountants said they influence the use of technologies externally with their clients, and 73 per cent said this was the case internally.”

Looking to the future, the report says there are challenges ahead for the profession. Mr Tayyebi comments: “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.”

Concluding, Aziz Tayyebi says: “Our report offers many actions the profession needs to take to deal with the challenges of the top 10 technological developments. They need to develop and change management styles, to assess risks and address security issues; they will need to explore further the impact of automation and prepare for changing working patterns. But ultimately, they need to use technology to add value. There lies the real opportunity of technology.”

ACCA and IMA’s joint website can be found at the following address: www.roleofcfo.com, a resource for finance leaders, containing ACCA and IMA reports, research, and insights including this new research report Digital Darwinism

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