The race is on. Digitalisation is reshaping the world and ‘the key to winning the race is not to compete against machines, but to compete with machines’, write Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in their book ‘Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy’.
On the road to future job and value creation, the authors advocate a collaborative partnership between computers and humans. All accountancy and finance professionals are now some way through this transformative journey.
However, it will be a marathon not a sprint. Although digital technologies and trends are transforming the world so fast and fundamentally that it can feel dizzying, we are only just getting started. ‘The world we inhabit is already digital, and it will continue to become more digitalised,’ says Clive Webb, senior professional insights manager at ACCA. Data is growing exponentially in volume and value; business models are evolving and becoming more customer-centric; and organisations are investing significant resources in digital transformation. ‘Technology evolution will continue, but at a greater pace,’ he says.
Adaptability, continuous learning and constant self-improvement will be vital if accountancy and finance professionals are to develop and maintain an optimal mix of digital, interpersonal and technical skills. ‘With our unique combination of accounting and ethical principles, business acumen and digital skills, the future of the profession is bright,’ says Webb. But there is no room for ambivalence to workplace changes that digital transformation brings. The profession must stay on top of evolving technologies and business models and ensure that its skillsets evolve appropriately.
‘We need to develop and maintain our digital quotient,’ says Webb, who authored the recent ACCA report ‘The digital accountant: Digital skills in a transformed world’. The digital quotient is one of seven professional quotients and competency areas where ACCA has identified behaviours and qualities that finance professionals must develop if they are to remain relevant and meet future needs and demands. ACCA defines the digital quotient as ‘the awareness and application of existing and emerging technologies, capabilities, practices and strategies’.