Accountants need to help their companies exploit the potential of emerging technologies for competitive advantage, said Faye Chua, head of Future Research at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
At this year's ACCA Singapore Annual Conference, Chua identified 9 technology trends that could potentially reshape the business landscape significantly. She also provided some suggestions as to how accountants can influence decisions on the adoption of technology, as per ACCA and IMA joint 'Digital Darwinism' report.
As employees are now expected to be always connected/working, they will be increasingly using mobile technologies for work. According to the report, 80 percent of accountants expect mobile technologies to be widely adopted within the next two years.
While the use of mobile devices is able to help improve productivity and efficiency, it does present challenges when it comes to managing data or device security. Accountants thus need to identify and educate their companies on the costs and risks associated with embracing a mobile workforce. There is also a need to create and enforce appropriate cost, data and process controls, as well as identify the finance services and processes that are suited for work on the go.
Some benefits of the cloud include enabling enterprises to easily share data, reduce infrastructure costs and scale. However, it is a challenge to monitor, control and analyse IT costs associated to cloud use. To overcome these challenges, one has to demand more granular use and cost data from service provider, explore ways of establishing financial costs.
As the stored data on the cloud might sit outside the country the enterprise is in, it is vital to clarify national and international tax regulations and complications with service providers prior to engaging their service.
It is worth noting that while accountants understand the value of cloud, they perceived it as a threat to their profession. Most of the respondents said that accountants will be replaced by 'techaccountants' in the next decade.' Accountants thus need to find ways to leverage these technologies to benefit their companies and ensure the relevancy of their profession.
The main aim of social technologies is to improve communication and collaboration in the workplace, said Chua. However, before adopting such technologies, accountants should assess and explain the risks and financial implications of new developments to business leaders, as well as develop the skills required to utilise social technologies in finance.
4. Big data
While analysing big data will allow enterprises to gain new and valuable insights, it brings about challenges including security and legal issues. Some ways of overcoming these challenges include understanding how to exploit various big data solutions, and ensuring data protection legislation is followed and that data is used ethically, said Chua.