Each year, Gartner releases their Top 10 Technology Trends for the year ahead. When this is released, I sit down with our Board and discuss what effect this could potentially have on our business as well as our clients’ businesses.
With the upcoming Gartner IT Symposium on the Gold Coast in October, I would share with you how I see these technologies affecting the accounting/advisory industries, and what I perceive may have an impact in the near future.
Here is a copy of the Gartner report, and a very worthwhile read if you have time: Gartner 2019 Top 10 Technology Trends
There are 10 major trends that Gartner talk about:
Digital Ethics and Privacy
While I believe all 10 will influence our professions, here are my big ticket items in terms of what will have the most significant impact (close fifth is Digital Ethics and Privacy).
1. Augmented Analytics
Everyone knows I am a big believer in accountants becoming data analysts and starting to leverage operational as well as financial data, and augmented analytics will help this process. So what is is it?
“Augmented analytics focuses on a specific area of augmented intelligence, using machine learning (ML) to transform how analytics content is developed, consumed and shared” (Gartner, 2018).
In layman’s terms, augmented analytics is about analytical engines becoming smart enough to allow us to query with what we call “natural language queries”, that is being able to type a sentence and the analysis is performed (eg. what were the sales for the North West region for the first half of the year by product group?). We can already see this in some of the tools out there in the market, but this is the continued progression.
This will allow for citizen data scientists, people being able to self-serve analytics even though they are not expert data analysts themselves. For the accounting industry, this means being able to get more relevant data more quickly to have more meaningful conversations with clients. This will not remove the need for expert data analysts, but will be able to generate quick insights for end consumers, liberating the data. Obviously for this to work we will need to embrace new technologies that allow for these capabilities at both the client and firm levels.
2. Empowered Edge
The Empowered Edge is all about IoT (Internet of Things) devices being able to compute and analyse the data themselves, rather than just being data collection tools. Why is this important? The number of IoT devices is growing exponentially, and the information collected is growing into a larger data management and analysis exercise. By processing and analysing the data at the end-point rather than centrally, we get faster and more relevant information. The improvement in AI hardware will make it easier to compute this data in real-time to generate insights.
How will this affect the accounting industry? To me, as accountants transition to business advisers we need to understand not only where the data comes from, but also the best place to analyse it for speed, accuracy and relevance. If the businesses we assist can get this information more quickly and accurately, we can then help them identify the actions that need to be taken, link these insights into planning and improve accountability without trawling through terabytes of data. This could potentially disrupt many industries, as insight is now delivered rather than just the data - all at a fraction of the cost.
3. Immersive Experience
Virtual Reality (VR) has been a buzzword for a few years now, but I am more excited by Augmented Reality (AR), being able to integrate the physical world with the digital world by displaying digital content in the real world. This is different from Virtual Reality, where it is a completely closed off and separated world with no interaction with the real world.
So how could AR help accountants and advisers? Some examples are:
Virtual meetings with people around a table from different locations, whilst still being able to interact with people locally
Multiple people working on digital twins at the same time (digital twins are digital representations of physical items - more complex than just a simple 3D model though)
Interactive presentations and control
Client meetings with remote clients
Being able to work through more abstract problems in a 3D landscape
4. Quantum Computing
This has become an interest of mine over the last 12 months. Quantum computing is a different way of processing data. Rather than how we currently sequentially process data, Quantum Computing can do many calculations at the same time. Eventually this may give rise to processing power many orders of magnitude greater than what we have today.
So what does this mean to the accounting and advisory industry? Firstly, it will change how we think of data, and more importantly “Big Data”. Big Data essentially means more data than you can actually process, and has been a bottleneck for AI and data analysis. What if there was no longer any Big Data due to the increased power of computing? Suddenly we would be able to process and analyse this data, help clients and customers in real-time and have sufficient processing power to solve even the most complex problems. This will change the speed of AI, enable more citizen data scientists and allow us to speed up execution time. Sounds great hey!
There are also new problems with Quantum Computing that we will need to solve, such as encryption. If Quantum Computers become as powerful as is expected, the way we secure data will need to change, as current methods may be reduced from hundreds of years to break to mere seconds. Don’t worry though, there is already research being conducted to make sure we can secure data if this eventuates, called “Post-quantum cryptography” (see more information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-quantum_cryptography).
For those who think Quantum Computing is a pipe dream, IBM has a publically available Quantum Computer online so you can start experimenting (https://quantumexperience.ng.bluemix.net/qx/experience) - this will be a space to watch into the future and will change how we operate.
Will these technologies eventuate?
It is very easy to see the above as specs in the distance, or even worse that they will never happen, but in reality if we look at the Gartner Top 10 from previous years that a lot of the technologies mentioned have been released and adopted.
So how to prepare for these future technologies?
If you are like most people, there is precious little time left in the day left to monitor the future of technology and how it may affect you and your clients. Personally I spend many hours each week trying to stay up-to-date with changes to the future landscape, and I am lucky enough to work in the industry. It is not surprising that many business partners feel it is overwhelming to stay current let alone look to the future.
How can PT 2.0 help you to keep abreast?
PT 2.0 is a technology business aimed at SME’s to help them adopt better ways of improving their business, whether that be through analysing your current processes and data, reducing risk, automating processes, improving business awareness or even help set strategy. We work with businesses across Australia and New Zealand with a strong emphasis on professional service firms (accounting, legal, engineering), maufacturing, retail and franchise groups; helping them build better businesses.
Feel free to drop us a message, through linked-in, or our website (https://pt20.com.au) to talk about your goals for your business throughout 2019.