Technology and the profession – updated resources from the Tech Faculty

Tech Faculty has updated and relaunched its core thought leadership report on technology and the future of the profession, Providing leadership in a digital world. First written back in 2015, this report tells the story of how technology is changing the profession, and highlights some of the implications for the future. We have now updated it to reflect our focus on the ABCD set of technology trends – AI, blockchain, cyber security and data – and share some of ways in which these trends are being used by accountants in different parts of the profession today. 

The reports build on a common theme of accountants moving up the value chain – using technology to automate repeatable and lower-value tasks, and freeing up time to spend on higher value work, such as advisory or business partnering. Given the wide range of accounting areas, the specific nature of higher value work varies substantially. But it often relies on getting more insights from data, providing another technology link in the story.  

The most immediate consequence of all this change is that accountancy jobs are changing, along with the skills that accountants need to do them. Since 2015, ICAEW has invested a lot of time and resource in updating the ACA qualification and developing a variety of resources to help our members and students upskill around technology. This will no doubt continue to evolve, and indeed accelerate, as the impact of technology increases. 

However, in order to respond effectively to change, and be proactive about the future, we also need to develop a deep understanding of how change is happening in the real world and get past all the marketing hype about technology. This report outlines our basic approach to thinking about technology and the profession so that we can do this: 

  • First, we need to understand what the technology is, what is new about it and its key features. 
  • Then, we need to understand how the technology is applied within the specific context of accountancy (from audit to finance functions to advisory services) – how it can be used by accountants, the benefits and business case, and the implementation challenges. 
  • From that experience, we can draw lessons which inform our thinking about the future and how the profession may change, where the biggest opportunities for innovation may be and what the key barriers are likely to be. 

This approach is reflected in all our thought leadership and research work on tech and the profession, and we have also added to the report a comprehensive list of Tech Faculty resources in this area. So, if you want a short introduction to some of the issues around technology and the profession, this is a good starting point.