Is the Very Relevance of Accounting at Stake? – A Global Perspective on the Automation Revolution

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a global perspective on the automation revolution

In business – as in life – change is the only real constant. From alleviating unfamiliar business stressors to adopting new functional paradigms, professionals in every sector find themselves coping with critical changes – most of them fueled by emerging technologies.

Accounting is no exception. The field has shifted far beyond mere payroll and book-keeping, and like its partner procurement, it is opting for an increasingly tactical role for forward-looking organizations.

While some experts reckon accounting has a bleak future in the future digital era, technologies such as process automation, cloud-driven data management, and advanced analytics will actually further lift accountants in innovative and encouraging ways.

Tech Will Help, Not Take Over, Accountants

In 2019, a survey on the impact of automation on accounting jobs revealed professionals’ concerns about getting replaced, having lesser opportunities for innovative problem-solving, and an over-reliance on technology in accomplishing routine tasks.

Yet, the events over the recent past, including the COVID-19 crisis, have rather indicated that accountants – like other professionals – need to worry about adjustment than replacement.

No doubt, digital transformation has drastically changed the play area. Big data offers ample room for the potential that needs to be unlocked to compete efficiently.

However, for businesses to utilize the potential of digital solutions, this shift is an opportunity, not a death knell.

The pain of Manual Tasks, No More

Automation curbs costs and boosts efficiency by staving off boring and time-intensive manual processes – three-way-matching, and data entry – and minimizes human error. It promotes straight-through handling, and instead of substituting human accountants, it frees them to focus on core strategic activities demanding collaboration, creativity, and capability – which AI cannot, for now, truly offer.

Accountants, for instance, can bring in their unique human talent to transform the extracted intelligence from high-grade information into more efficient financial planning and reporting.

In an integrated setting, they can team up with peers from other business divisions to utilize financial information to propel innovation, develop more robust and flexible supply chains, and devise business management strategies that trigger growth while ensuring continuum.

Tomorrow's Accountant - More Relevant, Strategic, and Innovative Than Ever

Both the job description and the skillset for tomorrow’s accountant will be significantly expanded, while still complying with the core capabilities of the profession. Backed by technology in a synergistic environment, accounting teams will be filled with both dedicated subject matter professionals and accounting experts from other domains of the business.

Accountants of tomorrow might play a consultancy role, bringing in business intelligence and procurement specialists and working to chalk out a strategic sourcing approach. They can utilize data management solutions, including augmented reality (AR), to contextualize and humanize spend data for the C-suite executives to improve decision-making as per long-term value instead of return on investment (ROI) alone.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) anticipates that like other tech disruptions, Industrial 4.0 will generate more employment than it will destroy. Automation might mean the loss of 85 million jobs but it holds the potential to generate as many as 97 million new
ones.

Future accountants will play a more strategic and innovative role in their companies. As such, their businesses will not only enjoy more effective workflows and draw more useful data from their accounting tasks, but help bolster their agility, resiliency, and competitive foothold.

Charting the Way Forward

Automation and other data-based technologies are slated to free accountants, not restrict them. Companies that understand the importance and capability of these technologies – and invest in the solutions and training needed to help their accountants benefit in full – will have the upper hand.
And that means that at last, accountants will not just be crunching numbers, they are poised to have the coolest job in any company.

Miles Education is a premier training institute for finance & accounting professionals looking to earn US CPA/US CMA credentials. The focus of Miles Education has always been to up-skill students and professionals to help them be future-ready and enable their career progression through the US CPA qualification.

Committed to achieving this goal, today, Miles is India’s largest and #1 CPA/CMA Review! It has been instrumental in building the CPA ecosystem in India holding offices in 9 cities and partnerships with 100+ MNCs, including all of the Big 4s. Miles Education provides student/professional-centric services while keeping concept-based learning at its core which has helped it climb to the top ranks when it comes to the US CPA certification in India.

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