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.
When peers refer to “the cloud” in cloud computing, it often seems a vague and intangible concept. It seems “the cloud” is a place somewhere around us, above us, or far away, that does not have shape, size, or touch. However, the cloud is very much tangible, as this blog post by Emily Anne Epstein shows – instead of a fluffy white shape, the cloud is very much made of cables, servers, and housed in entire buildings.
As accountants, we are constantly under pressure to legitimise our own roles. With more and more typical accounting tasks taken over by IT systems – especially in the traditional area of cost accounting – we need to be careful not to miss the train. Daniel Richards details in this blog post why accountants should heed the analogy with Kodak – if we do not change, we will become a thing of the past!
Users of spreadsheets are often working under the assumption that facts and figures employed are well known and certain. This might be an issue when it comes to planning – so how to incorporate risk and uncertainty in a spreadsheet analysis? Ozzie Gooen has seemingly developed an answer to this – Guesstimate features upper and lower boundaries for values used within specific analyses. It works with confidence intervals and probability distributions that allow its user to work with uncertain “facts, going beyond mere best and worst case scenarios.
Our textbook details the history of spreadsheets in general, and their digital version in particular. In particular, VisiCalc has pioneered the spreading of spreadsheets on personal computers, and its pivotal role cannot be underestimated. In this article on the Guardian website, John Naughton delves a deeper into the importance of VisiCalc, especially as the main forerunner of the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel software in businesses and at home.
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.
In Chapter 2, we outline some of the security issues in any information system. These threats are many and we do not cover them in great detail. Recently, Kim Zettner from wired.com provided a great summary of the security threats faced by information systems in the coming year. It is worth a read.