View from Council - Do We Trust in Technology?
ICAEW Scotland Council Member, Carl Bayley, considers the role of technology in modern professional life.
The theme for the ICAEW Council conference in July was “Trust and Technology”, although when it was first announced, I misheard it as “Trust IN Technology”, which left me pondering: do I really trust technology?
I had bought a new car the day before I drove down to Newcastle Airport to catch a flight to London, using tickets booked by my colleague Rob Tindle from The Northern Society of Chartered Accountants, which were stored only on his phone. We were met at Heathrow by a taxi booked by Tracey from the executive office at ICAEW, for which she had sent me the details by email. Hence, by the time I reached the conference, I had already relied on quite a lot of technology, some of it developed only quite recently, and all of it developed since the ICAEW was founded in 1880.
Connected to change
Cars, planes, emails, smart phones, and many other technological developments have been embraced by society since the ICAEW was founded and we have adapted to all of it and grown stronger and more influential throughout the last 140 years as a result.
So, while the first half of the conference, on the theme of “trust”, tackled many of the challenges we face today, with so much public scrutiny of the profession as a whole, and audit in particular; the second half looked at technology – and the challenges we will face in the decades to come.
I must admit, as an individual, I am a little unnerved by having my boarding pass stored on my friend’s phone and not on a piece of paper in my pocket (in fact, I’m not really a big fan of air travel at all) but, if the ICAEW is to continue growing stronger and more influential in the future, even the near future, we must adapt to the next wave of technology which society is about to embrace. As an institute and as a profession, the challenge is to remain relevant, and vital, in the changing world around us. Adapt or die is the watchword!
But let’s not forget about trust…
Trust is such a key part of what we do, as individuals, as an institute and as a profession. Our clients, employers, boards, shareholders, they all trust us to give them the right advice, to produce the right figures. We are trusted, and rightly so, because the vast majority of what our members produce is right. And it is our professional standards, our judgement, integrity and strong ethical code that make it so.
When we combine the standards that have been embodied in everything we do since 1880 with the technology of the future, our role will be to make sure what we produce can still be trusted. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, cyber security, big data: it is all developing at a frightening pace, but how do we embrace these technologies, and the ones we haven’t even heard of yet, and still ensure society can rely on what comes out the other end? That is our challenge: to give society trust in technology. If we meet that challenge, if we adapt, we will not die, we will thrive!
If you have any matters you’d like to discuss with Carl, or if there are any issues you’d like him to raise at Council please get in-touch.
IMS Council Member
T: +44 (0)131 657 2535