If there’s anything we’re learning from the repercussions of COVID-19, it’s that the power of technology has helped to keep people, businesses and communities connected during a time of crisis. Across many industries, we’ve seen technologies support online meetings, video conferences, virtual visits, and more, as human contact remains limited due to social distancing.
Had the corporate landscape not endured the digital transformation that we’ve witnessed over the past couple of decades, many of us would not be as well-equipped to handle the challenges we are facing today during the global crisis.
When we look at the accounting and finance professions, specifically, the impact has been vast. As remote working increases and the function becomes more reliant on automated processes and tools, we’re seeing the fundamental responsibilities of the accounting and finance functions change—and at a rapid pace. What was learned during one’s collegiate years only scratches the surface of what they’ll need in the long run to sustain their careers. It’s important to continue to build upon one’s potential in ways that might not have been obvious before the onslaught of technology—and before COVID.
I thought it was an important time to discuss the shift in what accounting and finance roles and responsibilities are beginning to look like. Therefore, I wanted to share 4 Technology Skills Accountants Need to Remain Competitive in the Future below.
- Understand processes.
It’s not enough to work project to project without a thorough understanding of the entire process. When factoring in new technology solutions, the setup and maintenance must allow for effectiveness and efficiency first. It’s up to accounting professionals to identify any gaps in these systems and make sure the integrity of the data and information is intact. Without understanding the reasoning behind the process, this will not work.
- Learn data analysis.
As more traditional duties of the accounting role become automated, the role of accountants is beginning to shift into more of an analysis capacity. Accountants now have the ability to access data from the cloud anytime from anywhere and have the computing done through technology. Learning programs like SQL can help you analyze data for business insights and future business decisions, making one an integral part of not only the accounting team, but the organization as a whole.
- Familiarize yourself with AI and RPA.
As AI (artificial intelligence) and RPA (robotic process automation) continue to make their way into all facets of business, and tasks that are repetitive in nature get automated to reduce manual error, reduce operational costs and make for increased efficiency, accountants need to embrace how this can help transition their responsibilities into a more critical-thinking capacity. Many AI and RPA tools cannot support complex situations, prioritize data or understand graphics and images. It’s becoming up to the accounting professional to do so in a clear and consistent manner.
- Advise and consult.
While the accounting function is typically responsible for giving formula-based, definitive answers on journal entries and financial statements, accountants are now being seen in a more advisory light. It’s important to understand the data in a way that allows you to provide opinions and recommendations on the numbers, especially if something looks astray within the automated technologies. This new approach for the accounting function to offer recommendations on process and systems improvements—and even help make decisions on business strategy and purchases—is just one more example of the transformation of accounting and technology, overall.
What are some other skills that accountants will need in the future? Comment below and let us know.