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ASA: April 2018 Issue


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Adapt or become irrelevant

In a world where everything seems to become more digital, it is not disputed anymore that technological change has repeatedly reshaped the workplace.

And the pace of that change has increased substantially with the development of new automation technologies driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is not only disrupting the way we work; it is also changing the relationship we have with work.

A recent study by McKinsey found that, globally, around half of the work people are paid to do could theoretically be automated using technology that already exists. It is also suggested that in the very near future anything that is a process can and will be run by AI.

And while some fear the impact of AI on their lives, it will also open new ways of working. In a survey of the World Economic Forum with global Human Resource Directors, 44% said that the principal driver of change in the workplace is new technologies which enable remote working, co-working space and teleconferencing. So, when people say that AI is a disruptive force – part of that is the branch of AI known as deep learning. It is deep learning algorithms that allow some types of chatbots to ask and answer customers’ questions, cars to learn how to drive themselves, and companies like Facebook to develop sophisticated photo recognition software.

And some even suggest that by 2020 the average adult will have more conversations with a chatbot than with their spouse.

As a business leader and influencer in the workplace, you have a big role to play in preparing employees for these changes not only through training, but by creating ways for employees to transition to new areas of work. To stay relevant in the future, companies need to allow for flexibility, spontaneity and a more seamless work environment between the virtual and physical.

It is clear that humans will continue to play a central role in the workplace, but employees and employers must be open to change and be flexible to adapt to the challenges of the deep learning revolution.

SAICA also believe that it is essential to identify the skills that the current and the next generation of business leaders need to develop. To this end, SAICA has launched a research project entitled ‘CA2025: The Chartered Accountant of the Future’ in order to look at and develop a competency frameworks that codifies the broad range of knowledge, skills, professional values (including ethics) and attributes members will need to ensure they remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.

Gerinda Engelbrecht
Editor: Accountancy SA