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In my second-year undergraduate Management Accounting course, we spend a few weeks on learning the ins and outs of Excel. However, learning and improving on Excel does not stop with a mere test – it can only just be the beginning. Below is a list of interesting links to free readings (and even an online course) for those who want more than just adding and subtracting in Excel:
- Excel with Wayne – 21-day free online course (very useful, highly recommended) LINK
- How to make prettier, more readable spreadsheets LINK
- How to create progress bars in Excel with conditional formatting LINK
- Excel’s versatile CONVERT function LINK
- How to craft the best Excel spreadsheet models LINK
- Factoring in the time value of money with Excel LINK
- How to use Excel in seasonal forecasting LINK
- How to boost Excel efficiency with Power Query LINK
- And finally a WSJ-article discouraging the use of Excel (or put it better: know when Excel works and when it has reached its limitations) LINK
Whilst not all of these may be relevant to your work, they a) may be in the future, and/or b) definitely deepen your understanding of Excel. And according to employers, Excel is a “skill” (if one was to reduce it to “one” skill) that accounting graduates still show deficiencies in.
In the second part of this mini-series on digitization and digitalization, I would like to highlight the connection between digitization, digitalization and accounting information systems (AIS). This connection is nothing new in modern AIS that are typically computerized, i.e. business processes are reflected on a digital basis. The collecting, processing, storing and outputting of accounting information is at the heart of any AIS, to enable crucial tasks like financial reporting or management decision-making.
It is (almost) obvious how digitization plays a role in this. The conversion of paper receipts, bills of materials, or other relevant documents into the AIS is an ongoing task. It is also a major undertaking if a company implements a modern AIS – decisions need to be made what type and range of relevant documents need to be digitized (converted into binary form) and transferred into the AIS, so that the data does not get corrupted in the process. Clearly, the focus here is on the technical side of the AIS. The accountant is of particular importance here, since it is part of his/her job description to be in charge of corporate information. Ideally, the accountant is also a major contributor to the design, implementation and maintenance of the digitization processes here, linking management needs to IT capabilities.
Digitalization is now directly linked to the purpose of AIS. The latter’s purpose as stated earlier in this post (collect, process, store, output accounting-relevant information) is clearly in line with leveraging digital technologies to enable, improve, transform, and support business processes and decision-making (see Part 1 of this mini-series). Designing, implementing and running an AIS can at the same time support a rethinking of a business’s current processes and operations, and as such, turn it into decision-relevant information. In other words, AIS can enable digitalization processes in a business. Again, this bears important implications for the accountant who as main information hub should enact his/her influence on the digitalization process to achieve the business’s objectives.
In a nutshell, digitized accounting information needs to enter the AIS which in turn is a leveraging technology to support the digitalization of the business. And this had, has, and will have a major impact on the role of the accountant in businesses in the future. I will discuss this aspect in the third part of this mini-series.
As accountants working closely with IT, we need to be aware of threats to sensitive corporate data. The attack by ransomware virus wannacry in May 2017 has clearly indicated that many companies such as the NHS or Deutsche Bahn were not prepared well enough for such attacks. In this short blog post by Nick Huber from CA Magazine, he lists seven common cyberthreats that accountants should not only be aware of, but also take measures against.
If you thought that people had their eyes glued to their smartphone screens all the time, then you might not have noticed, but Pokemon Go is all the hype right now. This mobile game applies augmented reality to superimpose little virtual creatures on real buildings, streets, even your own living room. So these days, you see people trying to catch them all, even in the Vatican
or a TV studio!
From Nintendo’s point of view, Pokemon Go is not only a very lucrative renewal of a media franchise that was already very successful in the 1990s, but also a way to collect massive amounts of data of the players. The location data alone provides the company with movement patterns that – in some cases – may show exactly when an individual was where at any time during the day. In this blog post by Bernard Marr on Forbes, he clearly warns that although such games may seem harmless, they hide the fact well that users are giving away their data far too easily without much further consideration. George Orwell’s dystopian view of the future in 1984 – Big Brother is watching you – has become a reality by now. With the only difference that Big Brother’s work is cut out for him.
I sometimes get the chance to chat with practitioners and employers, and when the conversation gets to accounting graduates and their IT skills, they more often than not flinch. Poor understanding of IT in general, and of Accounting Informations Systems in particular, is a detriment to an accounting graduates CV. As Megan Lewczyk details in her blog article “Don’t Let the Completeness and Accuracy of System-Generated Reports Be a ‘Leap of Faith“, accountants do not have the luxury of leaving all things IT to the IT staff. As the shepherd of corporate information, an accountant needs to understand, interact with and impact the systems that provide that information, be it for financial or management accounting purposes, be it for auditing or analytics – the accountant should not get relegated to a mere receiver of system output.
Big Data continues to be a trending topic in the business world. Said world has not stood still in 2015 – in fact, if anything, the topics surrounding the “new corporate gold” have matured and found centre stage worldwide. In a Forbes-article, Bernard Marr summarizes the main developments over the course of last year.
Happy new year, dear readers of our accounting information systems blog. It is a good time to reflect on one’s professional future, and what might be future trends for the tech-savvy accountant. In this blog post by Jason Bramwell from 2014, we can find many predictions that still hold true in 2016 – the modern accountant needs to be deeply involved with the systems that enable their daily work!
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.
The latest version of Microsoft Office, Office 2013, has an entirely cloud-based life called Office 365, indicating that a subscription to it (and not a one-off payment for the software suite) is valid for one full year.
The good news for all students and university teachers is: Microsoft offers a subscription model for university use, aptly named Office 365 University, with a four-years-for-the-price-of-one subscription, one terabyte of online storage, and the benefit to be able to access and work on your Word document or Excel spreadsheet on a tablet on the go (as I do). I found it incredibly useful to have a software that I used for the last two decades in the cloud now.
More information on Office 365’s features can be found in this Business Insider blog by Julie Bort.
Our book will be published in April 2014. We will be writing regular blog posts from then. For now, here is the Table of Contents of the book.
INTRODUCTION TO INFORMATION SYSTEMS, DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION
1 Introduction to information systems and accounting
2 Information systems and technology – some basic terminology and concepts
3 The role and development of information systems and technology in accounting
4 Accounting information systems change and development
ACCOUNTING INFORMATION SYSTEMS IN LARGER ORGANISATIONS
5 Enterprise Systems
6 Integrating information systems
7 Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)
ACCOUNTING INFORMATION SYSTEMS IN SMALLER ORGANISATIONS
8 Accounting software for smaller businesses
10 Decision support with spreadsheet software