We have often stated in this blog that the role of the accountant is changing. This change is heavily driven by new achievements in technology like cloud computing that enable anytime-anywhere access to decision-relevant data. At the same time, businesses acquire a plethora of data about their customers – so much data that professionals need the knowledge, skills and tools to excavate what is relevant, and what is not. As accountants, we should be in the middle of this “data excavation site”, handling this data mine to discover its treasures. This ACCA article argues that the finance profession (including accounting) needs to extend its reach and apply its core skills of gathering, manipulating and providing relevant information to a much larger data set. To enable accountants to do so, they will need to be the link between the IT department running the tools that enable real-time analytics of big data, and the business that needs to make sense of the results and put it in a strategic context. This will add skills to accounting that include data analytics and software engineering, leading to a hybrid role of accountants in the future.
The newest generation of cars are much more than just four wheels and a steering wheel. They contain more software-controlled features than the USS Enterprise, and in times of people being online at all times, so are their new cars’ onboard systems. This seemingly useful addition to our road journeys, however, also bears a risk that any online device potentially faces: being accessed (read: hacked) by a third party. As the American car manufacturer Tesla recently found out, a lack of control who is able to access (and manipulate) the onboard software may lead to severe ramifications, as this BBC article details. Ultimately, it demonstrates that everything that could go online (like fridges, clothes, watches or vehicles) needs to have a plethora of control features attached to it.
Accounting firms working for businesses have access to a myriad of internal customer data critical to their decision-making and business success. As such, cybercriminals might not only target the businesses themselves, but also the accounting firms that harbour crucial data of their customers. In this highly interesting technology feature of the Journal of Accountancy, three experts on this issue discuss the responsibility of accounting firms to safeguard their customer data against cyberattacks, and the rising need to spruce up their own technology knowledge.