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ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate: helping the profession tackle the data explosion

2 December 2020: As technology continues to transform the accountancy profession, ICAEW continues to seek and embrace the new opportunities it presents, writes CEO Michael Izza.

Data is exploding. Over the past few years, the volume and depth of data that accounting and finance professionals have had to deal with have become vast. The growth of its importance has only accelerated in 2020, as we've all suddenly had to adapt to a remote and predominantly digital way of working. 

This trend was brought to the fore by Finance in a Digital World – launched back in 2018 – which explores the major disruptors to the profession and the impact they are having on the work we do and how we do it.

Technological change is nothing new – we've all experienced it throughout our working lives. What is different now, however, is the amount of data and its availability to businesses of all sizes, and the technology and computing power that enables us to turn this raw data into useful information.

The ability to accurately predict future trends is a priceless asset to any business. But it's not just about analysing the data; it's about using it intelligently to answer practical business questions and effectively communicating the findings back to the business to inform decision-making. We should not underestimate the skills required to take information and explain clearly and concisely to colleagues what it means and how to act upon it.

The recent World Economic Forum' Future of Jobs' report underpins many of these beliefs, but what surprised me is the speed of change it predicts. It forecasts that the 'double-disruption' scenario of increasing automation in tandem with the COVID-19 recession will result in a significant shift in tasks, jobs and skills within the next five years. Audit and accountancy feature in the top four areas impacted. Data analytics and data science are listed as the biggest areas of growth. This is something our profession must take very seriously.

Encouragingly, the massive take-up of our Data Analytics Community, launched last year, suggests many members recognise the very real need to adapt and upskill in this critical area.

Today, I'm proud to announce that we are taking the next step with the launch of the ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programme. The programme has been developed specifically for finance professionals and explores data analytics as a process for answering business problems or questions rather than as a pure data exploratory exercise. 

Operating entirely online and developed in collaboration with ICAEW Partner in Learning, Kaplan Financial, this programme will upskill participants with the practical skills and understanding of data analytics you need to better support your business and clients by providing evidence-based, forward-looking insights and assurance that help decision making.

With an already well-established knowledge base and skillset in business and finance paired with commercial acumen, I believe chartered accountants are perfectly positioned to adapt, thrive and lead in this area. Our new certificate programme will help you do just that.

Find out more about the ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programme here.