Global megatrends are global opportunities for accounting profession

There’s been a lot of talk about “megatrends”, some of which are addressed in a recent OECD report.

It is clear that trends such as big data and artificial intelligence play into the future way in which we live and work. Depending on your perspective, these trends can be threats or opportunities.

With the right lens, they can be disruptors and enablers.  Embracing these trends is key to the future of our profession.

Technology and innovation allows for different and better ways of working, from simply collaborating, to being part of the bigger, broader contribution to global changes.

Big data and artificial intelligence for example, have enormous significance on changing the social and economic infrastructure of our global construct.

They also have a compounding effect on our profession broadly and individually, as we consider our roles as leaders in business and accounting.

The OECD report provides us with the most comprehensive insights yet.

These megatrends are catalysts in dramatically changing professions and the nature of work.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2016 predicts that by 2030 “emerging economies are expected to contribute two-thirds of global growth and will be the main destinations of world trade”.

Innovation and technology are driving steep changes to workplaces across the world.

Be prepared

Accounting is no exception – it’s a profession that’s being influenced and shaped by a number of megatrends.

As a professional member organisation it’s our responsibility to prepare for these challenges and embrace these opportunities.

Globalisation is well in play across the membership sector. And the accounting and professional services is consolidating its approach and evolving to remain relevant to its diverse, increasingly tech-savvy member base.

The past 10 years in accounting has seen a number of mergers or partnerships between organisations, providing members with mutually recognised qualifications.

There are other more recent megatrends too.

Rapid advances in technology have led to the proliferation of huge industries in data, artificial intelligence and analytics.

The application of these technologies presents significant opportunities for our profession to leverage, as accountants continue to strengthen and leverage their vital roles to support the ever-changing needs of businesses and the communities in which they work.

Accountants will continue to provide the financial and technical rigor to enable the freedom of innovation and ideas, so integral to global growth.

Data analysis tools are already helping chartered accountants provide richer insights for their clients, while delivering greater efficiencies.

Accountants – from sole practitioners to those in big six firms – are all benefiting from the technology, freeing up these professionals in practice to spend more time providing strategic advice to their clients.

New opportunities

Artificial intelligence for those who choose to embrace it, will enable the provision of economic and strategic insights to businesses, which in turn allows for a greater role in global business growth.

New markets and new and emerging economies will likely see the profession become more diverse.

What will this mean for the future of the profession? What will a “future” accountant look like in this world? Will this mean more or less regional sole practitioners? Do skills diversify further – with the old “bean counter” image giving rise to commercially astute, practitioners with immediate business relevance from day one and graduation?

And what skills and experiences will be required to reflect the changing business profile, as we embrace more start-ups and move to borderless commercial entities?

It will most certainly change the way we currently work. The role of the accountant is society will certainly need to adapt to reflect the impact of these “enabler trends”.

Embracing these trends enables a richer contribution from the accounting profession, at both an economic and social level.

It’s a pivotal time for the profession. Megatrends bring mega opportunities.

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