Embracing digital is key to transforming work experience for accountants

New ways of workingwill accelerate a move towards digitisation and promote careers that are intellectually stretching and driven by a renewed sense of purpose.

Futurework for accountancy and finance professionalsis settransform for the better through anincreasein the adoption of digital technologies, according toMeaningful work for the digital professional, a report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and EY based on a global survey of 4,281 respondents and 55 interviews between April and May 2020.

Respondents to the survey were benchmarked against a group of survey respondents termed‘Leaders’, who scored highly across a range of categories including the use and adoption of technology in the workplace. These Leaders typically worked at organisations that outperformed in adjusting their delivery model during the pandemic, with 95% saying their organisations were well prepared for using technology against a global average of 74%.

Overall, the report shows that thereis room to increase levels of digital adoption.Globally, community technologies (55%) such as social media and messaging saw the highest adoption rates followed by ‘Next-generation’ computing (eg Cloud, Serverless, Edge) at 36% and data technologies (eg big data, analytics, visualisation) at 30%. The largest gap in adoption rates between leaders and the rest of respondents was within the data technologies category. Looking ahead to the next decade, respondents expect engagement with digital and technology to approach 90%. 

Perhaps surprisingly, the report also foundthat less experienced professionals, who might be expected to be more digitally savvy, found the transition to remote working as a result of COVID-19 more difficult than experienced employees. This may reflect factors like a lack of appropriate workspace where they live, or a greater need for guidance in their work.

Report author Narayanan Vaidyanathansays: ‘While a fast-evolving and automating world presents challenges, for those willing to engage there are wins to be had.

‘The digital landscape presents significant opportunities for accountancy and finance professionals to achieve meaningful work experiences – ones that are driven by purpose and which afford the potential to stretch oneself in new and fulfilling ways.’

Two big differentiators of the Leader group were that their organisations had conductedemployee skills mapping to identify gaps and had tried to understand if employees found their work fulfilling. These are both critical components for creating meaningful work experiences.

Ruchi Bhowmik, Global Vice Chair – Public Policy at EY said: ‘Embracing new technology will help ease many of the pressures on today’s accountancy and finance professionals from increasingly complex, but routine tasks, issues and bring a new sense of purpose to their roles. At EY, our professionals are already leveraging technology and analysing data in a way that helps elevate their daily work, build essential skills, and lead to rich and meaningful careers.’

Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA, said: ‘Satisfaction in work is afundamental building block of a happy and successful life. For accountancy and finance professionals, digital tools offer new possibilities for meaningful work that will outlast the economic challenges posed by the global pandemic.’