We’ve already witnessed the impossible become almost unremarkable as technologies such as 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and the like have turned the world on its head. There are enormous implications for businesses across sectors and accounting is no different, as these technologies increasingly become a normal part of the working day.

Business leaders have been predicting for some time that by 2025, governments could collect taxes via Blockchain, audits could take place through AI, driverless cars will rule the roads and mobile phones will be embedded into our bodies, while human organs will be replicated on 3D printers, says an article in Canadian Accountant.

Within this predicted state of flux, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab’s has written a book entitled, The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The book looks at technology and how it will impact the world.

Accountants in particular will be affected by Blockchain and AI; with Schwab’s assertion that “AI is particularly good at matching patterns and automating processes” making it clear that many organisations will be amenable to implementing these processes. Ultimately, the book has an underlying message of job loss as these processes make certain positions redundant.

That said, while the Fourth Industrial Revolution is certainly a challenge to many professionals – accountants included – it is also an opportunity to fine-tune the profession; leaving accountants less focused on the processes that can be automated and more strategically involved in supporting these changes within their own and their clients’ businesses and ensuring financial functions fit seamlessly into the 4.0 world.

An article published in AB Magazine by Roger Burritt and Katherine Christ says that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the way business is done within the accounting profession. It represents a paradigm shift for accountants that they will have to embrace and work within – but with professional improvement through industry bodies, collaboration with other professionals, upskilling and education – it will ultimately enhance the services that accountants are able to provide.

For example, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will enable accountants to access data in real time, something that was previously not possible. It will facilitate the extraction of data from common pools and improve the quality of the data available, leading to more accurate and efficient insights.

Ultimately, the message is this: the accounting profession will undoubtedly change as a result of new technologies. As a CA(SA) it is up to you take advantage of the opportunities brought to you by your SAICA membership for professional development and ongoing education to ensure that you’re fit to practice in the 4.0 world.

For more about what to expect as a CA of the future, keep an eye out on this page as SAICA explores the competencies needed for a 4.0 world with its CA2025 project.

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