ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Digital transformation: mega trends in accountancy

The explosion in accessibility of data has led to rapid advances in digital technologies that are transforming businesses, economies and societies. Technology expert, Bernard Marr outlined how this fourth industrial revolution offers huge opportunities for accountants in his webinar: "Digital tranformation: mega trends in accountancy".

More about the digital era...

Complete this eLearning module to understand how the digital era is affecting our lives and what this means for finance. The course covers the characteristics of digital organisations and outlines the opportunities and challenges finance functions are facing.

Find out more
As the cost of computer processing and storage has reduced over the past decade, the volume of data has increased dramatically. According to Deloitte, 90% of all data have been created over the past two years.

This data revolution has led to the emergence of innovative new technologies in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the internet of things, 3D printing and driverless vehicles.

As technologies continue to develop and disrupt, this fast-paced environment has come to be defined as the fourth industrial revolution (see below). In his webinar, Digital transformation: mega trends in the accountancy profession, (part of ICAEW’s 2018 virtual conference on digital disruption), Bernard Marr described the opportunities:

“We are at the beginning of a new industrial revolution in which technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, blockchain technology are really changing our world and challenging the profession of accountancy. Instead of getting scared, we need to approach this in a smart way.”

Marr advised accountants to begin this process with a business strategy in mind, and to reflect on technological changes and how they can be used strategically to improve business performance.

He added: “We shouldn’t get scared because as we have learned with previous industrial revolutions, they have somehow made our lives better and I believe this new industrial revolution will also improve our lives and our world.”

Furthermore, digital transformation has become a powerful democratising force, providing access to networks and markets for many more people and businesses around the world.

There are also more opportunities for accountants to create innovative new services and different organisational models, as well as serve entirely new markets and tap into fast-growing networks.

The rate of change is set to accelerate over the next few years. According to Deloitte, an estimated eight billion people are predicted to be online by 2025. The emergence of innovative new business models and increased automation are rapidly altering the way we live and work.

While there are challenges to the accountancy profession as developments in AI empower and enable clients to obtain information and be more independent, the advantages offered by technology significantly outweigh the risks.

Digital transformation: The fourth industrial revolution

Timeline of industrial revolutions from Bernard Marr's webinar: Digital transformation: mega trends in the accountancy profession

Learn more

This information is an extract from Bernard Marr’s webinar: Digital transformation: mega trends in the accountancy profession and ICAEW and Deloitte's eLearning module Digital Era.