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9 technology trends that will reshape the accounting sector

Nurdianah Md Nur | June 2, 2014
Trends include mobile, cloud, social, big data, AI and robotics, virtual and augmented reality, payment, digital service delivery and cybersecurity, said Faye Chua of ACCA.

5. Artificial intelligence(AI)  and robotics
According to Chua, the regulatory focus on rules makes some areas of accountancy ideal for automated, self-learning systems such as AI and robotics as they could be better at improving compliance and decision making process. However, this means that the relevancy of the accounting profession is threatened. Accountants should thus upgrade their skills so that they can focus on higher value accounting tasks and services, as well as develop new ways to communicate and measure value and success. 

6. Virtual and augmented reality
Technologies in this area are said to be able to help some professions visualise complex data, enhance products and services, and work more efficiently. To help accountants get the most of them, they need to carefully consider the areas of application such as data visualisation where augmented reality overlays can benefit finance, compare the operating and ownership costs of virtual and physical assets, and assess the scale of business opportunities. 

7. Payment
As consumers are changing the way they transact, accountants need to be updated on the new payment platforms and mechanisms in order to maintain their role as advisers. Besides that, accountants need to ensure that emerging platforms are adequately and appropriately regulated, and drive the required changes to back-office systems such as accounting and treasury management.

8. Digital service delivery
Digital connectivity is here to stay and will reshape culture, business models and working practices, said Chua. For instance, the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) -- a freely available and global standard for exchanging business information - helps to enhance the efficiency of the finance function. To further benefit from digital services, accountants need to recruit or develop the required digital literacy skills, and work with taxonomy developers and standard setters to speed up taxonomy development and improve the interoperability of standards.

9. Cybersecurity
To address the increasing complexity of cyber security in future, there is a growing need for internal audit or accountants with expertise in that area. As gatekeepers of financial data security, accountants need to constantly monitor and assess technology-related business risks, update defences as necessary to mitigate and reduce risks, and ensure that the workforce is educated of risks.

The accounting and finance function will be more challenging in future due to these tech trends, said Chua. Accountants should thus keep themselves updated emerging technologies and understand how those technologies can be used to their advantage. They should also to upgrade their skills to ensure that they can offer higher value services than what those technologies are able to provide, added Chua.


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