TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS: SPUR OR BLUR FOR ACCOUNTANTS
By: Marian Joyce E. Delatina, CPA
With the fast growth of technology, some people fear that they might lose their jobs. Artificial intelligence is now an emerging presence in the BPO industry. Robotics has an inclined rate not only in scientific laboratories but now even in the hotel and tourism industry. Self-driving vehicles have been launched in the western countries. And the ambiguity lies before everyone: should technological transformations be really feared?
This question is not an exception even in the accounting field. The accountants over the decades has a growing population with more than 2,000,000 in the planet and approximately 24 accountancy bodies in 14 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia, according to the Accountancy Daily. Although there is an overwhelming growth in the population, some of the accountants still perceive technology as an adversary rather than an ally.
It is no surprise that some of us think that way. Media has been a major contributor of this even in the last century creating films promoting the “Humans vs. A.I.” campaign. Even books and social media adhere to this idea hence forming a false pretense that sooner or later professionals will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. But should accountants really be alarmed with the headway of technology?
Accountants need to have fresh notion about this subject. A lot of companies have developed products and services that are very beneficial in the accounting profession over the years.
One of the latest advancement is the Blockchain Technology which is a public electronic ledger that can be openly shared among disparate users and that creates an unchangeable record of their transactions, each one time-stamped and linked to the previous one. Each digital record or transaction in the thread is called a block (hence the name), and it allows either an open or controlled set of users to participate in the electronic ledger. Each block is linked to a specific participant. This is considered as the newest disruptive architecture of technology not only in the field of accounting but most especially in IT.
Another one is the OCR commonly known as Optical Character Recognition. Although OCR has long been introduced, recent developments have been done to simplify the data collection process. OCR technology attempts to identify characters by analyzing the shapes, forms and
texts of the printed material translating it to the software. From conventional scanners to digitized applications in smartphones that performs organizational tasks such as sorting information for your customized needs. OCR has changed the traditional form of data collection eliminating hours of recording and organizing information in just one click.
The introduction of Blockchain and OCR are only few of the technologies that disrupt the accounting profession. This steers others to believe that mundane jobs such record-keeping will soon be substituted by this mode of technology. And according to Jean Baptiste Su, Vice-President and Principal Analyst At Atherton Research, accounting tasks which includes but are is tax, payroll, audit, banking are most likely to be fully-automated by A.I. and robotics by 2020.
So what’s next for now?
The movement of technology has a correlational effect on accounting profession: the more advanced technology is, the more inclined professional skills should be. This will thrust the accounting practice to cultivate skillsets that are highly demanded and of which, technology cannot replace – an advisory role. Stephanie Weil, CEO of Accounteam, a Silicon Valley-based accounting firm affirmed “However, if the AI system is well configured, it can eliminate accounting errors that are generally hard to find and thereby reduce our liability and allows us to move to a more advisory role.”
The bottom line is that career advancement in bound to happen. The present notion towards technological transformations should change. Accountants need to invest more in fostering exceptional skills and not just on relatively and historically confined job descriptions.
Marian Joyce E. Delatina, CPA is a Senior Audit Associate of Inventor, Miranda & Associates with extensive experience in accounting, taxation, and audit from various industries in the Philippines. She is an active member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice (ACPAPP), and is also a part-time instructor, teaching various college accounting subjects.
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