by Clar Rosso, Executive Vice President- Engagement and Learning Innovation, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
Learn. Unlearn. Relearn.
It’s hard to believe that these three words by Alvin Toffler may be the key to navigating the age of disruption. But, they just might be – so that the accounting profession remains relevant, we need to look at the best way to re-think competencies and evolve talents.
Everywhere we look, there are examples of how technology is pushing people in all industries out of their comfort zones. It requires not just adaptation, but rapid, constant, multidimensional change.
Mobile payments are a good example. In 2016, mobile payments in the United States added up to $112 billion. While that sounds like a lot, the next year China generated $12 TRILLION in mobile payments. The difference lies in implementation: the U.S. has a complex, expensive and fragmented system of mobile payments, while China’s system employs simple, scannable QR codes for making a payment. As a result of its implementation, the U.S. is lagging behind the trend of a cashless society.
Another example of disruption is robotic process automation (RPA). Last summer, IBM and Walmart teamed up to test blockchain technology on food safety in China. Researchers placed one bad mango in the supply chain, and tested the traditional process for locating it versus blockchain. The traditional process required numerous people and took six days, 18 hours and 26 minutes. The same test was run using blockchain technology which took into account food safety processes and product information, and had created a single historical record for their whole supply chain. It took 2.2 seconds for it to find the bad mango.
This kind of RPA takes high volume, repetitive tasks – like food safety, or even accounts receivable – and does it much more quickly and efficiently than people can.
Businesses are increasingly encountering new opportunities that come with new challenges. Business processes are changing, including roles and structure, requiring new learning. It affects accountants, finance teams, auditors, tax preparers and many more.
So, how can accountants remain relevant? Here are three ways to future-proof your career and continue adding value during disruption:
Evolve your human intelligence: This focuses on people, leadership and cognitive competencies. The World Economic Forum predicts that five years from now, more than a third of skills considered important today will no longer be relevant. And all jobs will require new core skills as early as 2020. These include: people management, judgement and decision-making, service orientation and more. To help you prepare for the future workplace, the Association’s new Human Intelligence series provides information about the competencies that will be most valued for the profession moving forward.
Develop competency in emerging areas: These include cybersecurity, blockchain, digital leadership and data analytics – just for starters. All of which are big players in technological disruption, and it’s up to you to learn how to use these to add value to your organization. The Association will provide resource centers, conferences, certificate programs, podcast series and more to help you stay ahead of these trends.
Shift your mindset to help people be ready to perform in the digital environment: It’s necessary to teach people to be flexible, how to thrive in ambiguity, be curious and increase tolerance for risk. The Association is launching a new suite of resources and products to help people in the profession succeed during the fourth industrial revolution.
Rest assured we will be one step ahead of emerging competencies (who knows, there might be a new one tomorrow!) to support your lifelong learning. We hope you’ll join us in navigating these complex – but exciting – times. Let’s go beyond disruption together.