Archives For Jeff Thomson

Digital service delivery

By Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE, IMA President and CEO

Automation: we’re seeing it everywhere – from checkout lines at supermarkets to the way accounting departments file reports. These days, it seems that most organisations across a wide array of industries are employing some kind of digital service delivery. The goal: to increase efficiency, customer satisfaction, and market penetration.

While some new companies may be fully digital from the start, most organisations are at an intermediate stage, adopting tools such as self-service bots on retail websites, finding value in the analysis of large data sets, or using the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) to file statutory returns electronically.

Exploiting such emerging technologies as web-based business processes, e-commerce, mobile commerce (m-commerce), and cloud-based software and services can enable an organisation to:

  • automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks
  • streamline complex business processes
  • replace human interaction with machine-to-machine and person-to-machine interaction
  • reshape business models to make the most of available resources
  • access and provide public services more easily and cheaply, and
  • monetise underused assets.

Take XBRL, for example. So far, most XBRL adoption has been driven by regulatory compliance. This has improved data access for investors and other stakeholders all over the world. But it could do even more to enhance the automated exchange of data internally and along supply chains. How? If businesses and professional bodies around the world can co-operate to produce the required taxonomies, if software developers strengthen their existing products and create new ones, and if businesses advocate for change – the positive impact of XBRL could be even greater. (Of course, it’s also possible that another technology could come along and make XBRL obsolete).

Further, as more and more accounting services are provided digitally, there may even be a dis-intermediation of the accountant’s role in regulatory compliance. The systems of businesses and those of regulators could eventually become so interconnected that they can exchange information automatically after it has been verified by smart software.

The fact is, if firms don’t embrace automation and enhance their services, they risk obsolescence. According to a report by ACCA and IMA, Digital Darwinism: Thriving in the Face of Technology Change, the majority of accountants intend to avoid this: 64% said they expect to embrace digital service delivery within the next two years and 31% said they’ll do so within two to five years.

While some firms and organisations are using digital technologies to provide real-time collaborative advice and services, others may need to do more. Those that miss the window of opportunity risk becoming casualties of ‘Digital Darwinism’. Fortunately, the evolutionary process brings both good news and bad: No entity is too big to fail or too small to succeed.

Read more about the technology trends that are impacting the accounting profession at



By Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE, IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) President and CEO

Since my early career days in the telecommunications industry, people have always waited with baited breath for new technologies that could help businesses excel.

The accounting profession, in particular, is influenced by technology, and accountants can expect changes over the next decade and beyond.

A recent report from ACCA and IMA, “Digital Darwinism: thriving in the face of technology change,” focuses on 10 technology trends with the potential to reshape the profession and business landscape significantly. The most important trend identified was the rise in mobile.

Accountants are well aware of the significance of mobile. In fact, 78% of CFOs surveyed said mobile technology will have a large impact on their business in the years ahead.

The number of mobile phones overtook fixed lines in 2002, and while the numbers are still being counted, 2013 may be the year when internet-connected mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets trumped the number of desktop and laptop computers.

Mobile technology changes how, when, and where people can work and how effectively they can do their jobs, with 24/7 access to the office network and the cloud. Mobile commerce is intensifying. More and more products and services are bought and sold using m-commerce applications, mobile devices, and wireless payment terminals.

Accountants and the businesses they work for can seize the opportunities that mobile devices and targeted apps can bring.

For example, mobile technology can:

  • create faster and more connected workforces
  • enable access to information ‘anywhere, anytime’ to increase productivity
  • empower managers and employees to make informed decisions faster
  • support collaboration across the business
  • make products and services more accessible
  • create new products and services
  • improve agility to help grasp new opportunities as they arise
  • help predict financial performance with greater accuracy

Accountants are exploiting mobile technologies for productivity and efficiency gains, bringing businesses closer to their clients and suppliers, and staying connected to them, whether they are in the office or remote. Numerous mobile devices are being combined with cloud services to provide ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to specialist software and the associated business and finance data.

Our research found that 80% of accountants expect the profession’s adoption of mobile technologies to become widespread within the next two years.

Finance professionals already enjoy the convenience of mobile access to enterprise information. Accountants are also taking the opportunity to accelerate the cycle times for key processes, eliminating bottlenecks, reducing operational costs and improving productivity—leveraging all of this to become more strategic.

You can read more about the technology trends that are impacting the accounting profession by visiting the ACCA and IMA website,