(As published in The Star on 18 March 2019)
The fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0) is making waves in the business world, with industries scrambling to adapt to fast-changing technological trends, in order to stay relevant in today’s market.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018, one of the top ten professions at the highest risk of being automated is the finance and accounting profession, which will be a ‘declining’ profession by 2022.
For accounting and finance to evolve in the value curve, professionals must move on from repetitive transactional work and become partners that can value add and undertake strategic work for the businesses they serve.
“The conundrum is this: finance and accounting professionals are spending 90% of their time performing transactional work, leaving them very little time for value add, let alone strategic finance,” said Joon Teoh, the founder and chief executive officer of AGOS Asia Sdn Bhd.
The core of finance and accounting involves transactional work such as making payments to suppliers, ensuring salaries and expense claims are paid to employees, as well as issuing invoices to customers, collecting monies and providing financial performance information of the organisation.
Currently, most accountants, finance managers and even shared services professionals spend the bulk of their time in the transactional work; i.e. in the “preparing” and “producing”; which is precisely the areas within finance and accounting where the automation and robotic evolution has begun.
Automating and robotising these repetitive processes, which tend to be voluminous and prone to error, would increase efficiency and accuracy.
Moreover, finance professionals will be able to lead corporate activities such as funding, listing, and mergers and acquisitions. One important aspect, she noted, is on resource allocation coupled with relevant return on investment analysis.
She said, “It is truly the time to stop pushing the rectangular wheel, take a step back and analyse how to shape the wheel into a round one, in order to propel your organisation towards agility and competitive edge.”
To move forward, the key lies in the awareness of opportunities, technology solutions and successful implementation.
“We can look at learning from the global business services and finance shared services organisations in Malaysia, which have been pushing the frontier in automating transactional work via automation, Robotics Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence and making inroads in delivering value add finance work to their businesses,” she added.
As the finance and accounting profession rises to the challenge of IR4.0, Teoh said it is key to network, learn and share from peers in the industry. For those keen to do so, the upcoming AGOS Finance Summit 2019 will offer attendees the opportunity to tap into the experience of more than 40 finance practitioners who have successfully undertaken the journey of automation, Robotics Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics in delivering value for their businesses.
The AGOS Finance Summit 2019 will be held on April 9 to 10 at Connexion @ Vertical in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur. For more details, please visit www.agossummit.com.