Last week I read few media reports regarding Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Deep learning, Cognitive Computing and Internet of Things (IOT) and also observed lot of fear amongst the professional fraternity regarding “Machine replacing Human”. Fear seems globally so strong that even CEO of Microsoft Mr. Satya Nadella is clarifying to media that this is evolution of technology and human values will remain as meaningful as they were.
Being a Chartered Accountant with inclination towards technology from the beginning of my career since 1994, I would like to examine few interesting aspects of technology today for 285000+ strong chartered accountant fraternity of India. Today our professional brothers and sisters are mostly young and working in Industry, Practice or self employed in some business or startups.
One thing is very clear that no one can stop the evolution of Technology so there is no point even talking against it or pushing it away from us. So now let’s focus on 3 things to remove fear of technology permanently –
- What lies beneath the surface of these Jargons?
- How we can use technology to our benefits professionally?
- Where we should go to unlearn and re-learn about technology?
In this article, I will briefly touch up every question and attempt to answer in the context of Chartered Accountancy profession and at the end will recommend what we can do more to get up to speed with Technology irrespective of the Age or number of years of experience.
Firstly, every CFO, Business Advisor or Finance Manager should start believing that technological changes in his/her areas are not owned by technologists only but he /she also have stake in it.
In our Professional life we use below 4 steps for decision making:
Inputs we use for all these 4 steps is the data available to us, client interactions, social media, internet, secondary research, primary knowledge, experience as a team etc etc. In an ideal scenario, when we make optimum use of all of this, our decisions are taken based on solid data; else we call the shots by gut feel or hearsay.
If someone tells you that all these 4 activities can be performed by Machine and collectively human experts world-wide are making this machine powerful every day. You may start believing it true only after you see the results in contextual search and if questions are answered perfectly with various options, permutation or combination.
Wow!! it is working and saving lot of your time, your team time and the same time can now be deployed to understand more about your client, various primary fact finding and refinement in decision making by taking care of soft aspects and business conditions unique to situation of your client.
Corpus of Knowledge, accounting and business databases and ERP tables are available with lots of business intelligence tools even today, but human intervention make the process slower because processing capacity of any human brain for logical data can’t be more than machine. Our memory or storage capacity is infinite but human brain is not trained to use it fully, so why can’t we use technology to process data with Artificial intelligence and serve our clients with fact based recommendations.
Where we can learn about these new technologies?
If you are active on LinkedIn, EdX, Online MOOC platforms and credible online learning portals run by world’s most reputed universities, it is easy to learn, interact and connect with best professors, entrepreneurs and teachers on these subjects. It does not matter whether you are living in Metro or Tier 4 town, access to technology is democratically divided and your ability to think future and act in collaboration with technology can make you future ready to generate huge business for yourself by serving clients through remotest of location as well.
Even technologists today who are developing these technologies need support from Domain experts, so as a chartered accountant you should test your professional capabilities and not memory. You should gain mastery on application of what you read and not on the theory which is available in terabits for FREE on Internet.
Your clients will demand your judgment, decision making, fact based opinion, expert hand-holding in future and that will always command more value and professional satisfaction. Activities which are repetitive, easy to be done by machine, error prone if managed by human, then believe me or not, will have less value add for your clients and you as a professional.
Develop attitude towards unlearning and learning new skills and stay in touch with technology.
My recommendation would be start customized courses for young chartered accountants in these technologies, practical training on sophisticated audit tools, data science, predictive analytics, so that we can add value in our Audit, Assurance, Advisory, Litigation and Compliance Services.
Log on to www.casanjay.me to track our previous articles and MCQ series to know how you can build a successful career as Chartered Accountant and contribute in the growth of Nation as true professional.
Author CA Sanjay Kumar Agrawal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org