How Accountants Will Be Supported Rather Than Replaced by Technology

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How Accountants Will Be Supported Rather Than Replaced by Technology

CFO Tech Outlook | Monday, August 23, 2021

Organizations that recognize the potential and significance of technologies—and invest in the tools and training needed to help their accountants reap the benefits—will be ahead of the curve.

FREMONT, CA: Change is the one true constant in business, as it is in life. Professionals in all industries are grappling with enormous changes, many of which are driven by emerging technologies, from minimizing unexpected business disruptors to adjusting to new operational paradigms.

Accounting is no different. The field has progressed far beyond bookkeeping and payroll, and, like its companion procurement, it is increasingly playing a strategic role for forward-thinking companies. While some experts believe accounting has a bleak future in the digital world of the future, innovations like cloud-based data management, process automation, and advanced analytics are primed to elevate accountants in new and empowering ways.

Accountants Will Be Supported Rather Than Replaced by Technology

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Industry leaders have sounded the beginning of the end for accountants since 2015, concerned that developing technology, particularly automation, would lead to the death of accountancy as we know it. In a survey on the influence of automation on the accounting profession, accountants voiced concerns about being replaced, having fewer possibilities for innovative problem-solving, and an overdependence on technology in completing daily activities as recently as 2019.

However, events since then, notably the Covid-19 pandemic, have demonstrated that accountants, like other professionals, must be concerned about adaptation rather than replacement. There is no denying that digital transformation has shifted the playing field dramatically. Big data has evolved into a valuable resource that must be utilized to compete effectively. However, for companies ready to use digital technologies, this transformation is an opportunity, not a danger.

Accountants, for example, can use their uniquely human skills to translate high-quality data insights into more effective financial planning and reporting. They can engage with peers from different business units to use financial data to drive innovation, create more resilient and agile supply chains, and establish business management plans that support growth while maintaining continuity in an integrated environment. Accounting professionals who understand and can use distributed ledger technology (and can educate others on how to do so) will be in high demand for process creation, auditing, and records management, among other things.

Accountants will be freed, not constrained, by automation and other data-driven technology. Organizations that recognize the potential and significance of these technologies—and invest in the tools and training needed to help their accountants reap the benefits—will be ahead of the curve. Accountants of the future will play a more strategic and creative role in their organizations. As a result, their companies will benefit from more efficient workflows and more meaningful insights from their accounting procedures and increased robustness, agility, and competitiveness.

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