The days of spreadsheets being the new technology for accountants are over and there is a fundamental need for accounting and finance professions to have a robust and comprehensive digital skillset, said Clive Webb, Senior Subject Manager- Business Management at ACCA.
ACCA recently released a report titled The Digital Accountant authored by Webb. The report is based on a survey of more than 4,200 global respondents, of which 90 accountants are from Singapore.
Survey result highlights
- 81% indicate an expert ability level in the more traditional areas of spreadsheeting an 72% identify themselves as ERP experts.
- Only 20% of accountants believed they had expertise in emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, and machine learning.
- 88% of Singapore accountants believe digital skills are necessary in their industry
- Only 54% of accountants surveyed believe they have the right level of digital skills
New tech helps address new issues
Being able to predict where market disruption is coming from is imperative, there is a fundamental need for accounting and finance professions to have a robust and comprehensive digital skillset, Webb said.
The acquired digital skillset must then be applied to help accountants and the businesses they support to address the issues of the day – namely ones such as the current global coronavirus pandemic we are combatting, he noted.
Accountants must now have the capability to respond to digital challenges presented by the profession, he advised, adding that this can be achieved by showing purpose, ambition and understanding technology such as blockchain and the use of coding.
Webb: Spending three minutes a day in continuous learning
“Speaking the language of technology and appreciating how it can drive business models can benefit accountants significantly. This could be from spending just three minutes-a-day invested in continuous learning and identifying future opportunities on how to improve their understanding of technology,” Webb said.
While the evolution of technology and the digital landscape will continue, the pace of change that we have seen in recent years may well be eclipsed by the operationalisation of technologies such as 5G and hyper automation, he pointed out.
“The business model of today is likely to be far from the business models of five to ten years’ time,” Webb said. The integrated workplace of smart systems, smart cities, smart workplaces and flexible working lives is becoming a reality.”