Digital Transformation – A Blessing Disguised as a Tsunami

January 31, 2020 | Rouba Zeidan

Whether you work in the public, corporate, governmental or academic sector, chances are you are dealing with a prominent buzzword being tossed around boardrooms and classrooms around the world: Digital transformation!


And what a magnificent scale of the transformation it is indeed. In fact, no industry or sector is safe from this digital tsunami, which according to a study by Forrester Research, Inc., will eliminate 72% of jobs in management, business, and finance, by the year 2020.

With ever-smarter processes and software encroaching the traditional role of accountants and finance professionals amongst other professions, it is no wonder 42% of the financial professionals interviewed in a recent IMA Pulse survey said they worry their jobs will be cannibalized by technology. Indeed, we are gradually losing ground to the machine that is rendering our job skills obsolete by the day.

The main takeaway here is that accounting and finance skills are no longer enough. Management accountants who acquire the skills needed to remain relevant and “fit for purpose,” not only today but for the next five to 10 years, stand to play a leading role within their organizations.

Though the impact of technology is being felt in every area of the accounting profession, it most certainly does not mean accountants and finance professionals are in any way irrelevant. Just the opposite actually. Accounting and finance professionals are more important than ever, and if they possess the right human skills, they are worth their weight in gold!

What we are witnessing here is really an evolution of the role of the management accountant from its traditional focus on financial reporting and stewardship to becoming a valuable business partner capable of helping their organizations to formulate their next move in an ever-fluctuating landscape of uncertainty.

The only way to truly harness the power of this technology-driven era we live in is to upskill or risk facing extinction! To put this into perspective; developing capabilities in business strategy, leadership, forecasting, communication, management and of course, new technology, is your ticket to becoming your company’s trusted advisor.

Jeff Thomson, President, and CEO of IMA, says data analytics and strategic management are crucial skills accountants need to develop. In his paper on the future of work in the management accounting field, he predicts that for accountants and finance professionals, the future can represent a more strategic level of work, leading to higher levels of employee satisfaction.

The reality is that our world is being positively disrupted by a whole host of blessings in the form of Big Data, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cognitive computing, machine learning, and robotics process automation (RPA). Whilst technology is eliminating many accounting positions, mostly the mundane repetitive ones, it comes bearing the gift of human-error-free efficiency.

Farewell number crunching “compliance cop,” hello high-level strategic business partner! Time to reap the rewards of real-time financial performance insights which once connected to operational levers, become key to unlocking enterprise value.

Welcome to the new world of business where management accounting professionals are granted the power of integrated data, strategic planning and innovation as they go about anticipating the future and helping their organizations envision a great one!