Becoming a Digital Citizen: Embracing Learning and Development in the Workplace
Sumesh Krishna, Partner
The ever-changing digital landscape ensures that adopting innovative technologies in the workplace will always be necessary. Accountancy and finance professionals must maintain the right level of competence to be effective in their roles.
Data analytics emerged as a primary area for development across various fields of interest. The main obstacles to maintaining digital skills were perceived lack of time, insufficient resources, and limited opportunities for continuous learning.
There no reason why developing these skills would be challenging for Individuals. The digital realm is often regarded as confusing, and the wide range of topics that need to be covered can appear daunting. Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize and seize the available opportunities to make the most of them.
The Challenge of understanding the Business
- Technology plays a significant role in the responsibilities of finance professionals, regardless of their specific roles. We must be proficient in using and applying relevant tools in our work.
- As businesses increasingly utilize technology to gain a competitive edge, it is vital to understand the importance of using it correctly and the impact on financial and operational processes.
Confidence is required in three key areas:
- Ensuring the data used by the organization is complete, accurate, and exists.
- Familiarity with the tools available for analyzing the data and understanding the organization’s business model to contextualize the analysis within its strategy is essential.
- The key to developing our digital competence is a clear understanding of how technology and data are employed in the business.
Successful finance professionals will integrate their digital skills with accounting expertise, ethical judgment, and business acumen.
- The successful individuals in the future will be determined by their capacity to establish an efficient operating model that aligns with the organization’s core competencies.
- As accountants and finance professionals, we must comprehend the organization’s capabilities and effectively utilize our skills to assess how these capabilities are utilized in executing the strategy.
Seizing the Developmental Opportunities
The digital quotient combines skill (knowing how to do something) and knowledge based on facts (understanding how to gain commercial advantage, for instance). There is no single developmental path that can address both objectives.
- Possessing a curious mindset towards innovative technologies and embracing the opportunities available, including learning from colleagues in your workplace, is essential.
- One potential approach is to identify a few trusted organizations or individuals whose opinions you value and actively follow the insights they develop. This approach helps you to develop an understanding of trends and focus on the areas that are relevant to you.
There have been two notable periods of increased understanding of business processes.
- The first occurred with implementation of the first generation of ERP applications in the late 1980s.
- The second was prompted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which emphasized internal control and processes. While control documentation has been maintained, the intrinsic comprehension of processes and data flows has been lost.
For finance professionals, digital transformation presents an opportunity to regain the knowledge of processes and data that was lost. It allows us to maximize our understanding of processes and data to serve our organizations better.
The Generational Divide
The reality is that the workforce is experiencing an ageing population. Fertility rates are declining, and in some developed economies, the fastest-growing segment of the workforce is the over-55 age group.
When technology is discussed, it often involves assumptions about generational differences. One common assumption is that younger generations are naturally more technologically literate, while older individuals struggle to understand the digital world. While these assumptions may have some truth, they overlook a more considerable challenge.
- The potential challenge for older individuals is that they may be perceived as less adaptable than younger people. Older workers may find themselves comparing their technological comfort with the younger generation, who are more at ease with consumer technology.
- As technology continues to evolve, it remains crucial for individuals to learn and develop new skills throughout their careers continuously. It doesn’t imply that only technologically adept individuals from older generations drive transformations.
It is impractical for each generation to rely solely on succeeding generations to master the latest software and innovations. As a profession, we must provide relevant learning opportunities to enable individuals to reach the required performance levels.
Five sectors of Future Career Opportunity in Accountancy
The Assurance Advocate
The role of the assurance advocate is to enhance trust and integrity within organizational operations. They may concentrate on enterprise risk management, promoting transparency, and understanding emerging issues that impact business performance.
Additionally, they are at the forefront of shaping future audit practices as digital tools and technologies. They may even be responsible for auditing algorithms in the future.
The Business Transformer
On the other hand, the business transformer serves as the driving force behind organizational change. They are responsible for leading significant business change initiatives or transforming finance operations.
They may also lead innovative smaller accountancy firms specializing in transforming client businesses. Furthermore, they might explore expanding their careers in external advisory services driven by technological innovation and economic growth.
The Data Navigator
The role of the data navigator revolves around being a valuable business partner. They recognize the immense opportunities presented by the expanding realm of data and leverage emerging technologies and analytical tools to drive insights that lead to tangible business outcomes and effective financial management.
They advocate for utilizing diverse and comprehensive data sets and employ smart data to produce forward-looking analysis that supports decision-making processes.
The Digital Playmaker
On the other hand, the digital playmaker is an enthusiastic proponent of technology. They envision the transformative potential of emerging digital tools within their organizations. They actively promote technology adoption and advocate for effective data governance practices.
They may specialize in digital implementation programs or possess expertise in specific finance and business technologies. The digital playmaker understands that in today’s global economy, digital transformation is crucial for the long-term sustainability of organizations.
The Sustainability Trailblazer
The role of the sustainability trailblazer is centred around performance management within the organization, with a specific focus on sustainability. They are responsible for establishing frameworks that capture, evaluate, and report on activities that generate value in transparent and meaningful ways for external stakeholders.
They spearhead the transformation of management accounting practices to align with a multi-capital world, considering various forms of value beyond just financial aspects.
Developing Your Digital Quotient
As finance and accountancy professionals, we must consistently invest in our digital skills to capitalize on the available opportunities. Our strong technical background obtained through qualifications is always relevant to our work. However, mastering digital skills in a rapidly changing world is ongoing. While embracing emerging technologies, we should exercise caution and not be swayed solely by their promises.
- When developing our digital skills, especially in emerging technologies, it is crucial to cultivate initial awareness during the enthusiasm phase.
- However, we must also avoid heavy investments until the reality phase.
- Failing to recognize this exposes us to the risk of becoming overly committed to emerging technologies that may ultimately prove less beneficial than anticipated.
As a Professional
As professionals in accountancy and finance, continuously enhancing their digital proficiency in separate domains is essential.
- Firstly, they need to assess the significance of the digital environment in their work setting and comprehend how technology is employed to execute business strategies – in the digital context.
- Secondly, they should acquire and apply specific skills relevant to the technologies utilized by their organization – digital applications.
- Additionally, it is crucial to acknowledge emerging technologies as a third category.
Collectively, these two domains encompass a blend of knowledge and skills, necessitating distinct personal development strategies for each.
As a Manager or Leader
As a manager or leader, it is crucial to consider how you can develop and acquire these skills. Additionally, a successfully transformed organization should foster a culture of innovation and curiosity.
This aspect is equally important throughout the profession, alongside the ability to comprehend the digital landscape within any given role. Some elements of such a culture include:
- Promoting collaborative work across various functions and geographical locations.
- Recognizing and rewarding individuals for generating new ideas.
- Recognizing and rewarding individuals who embrace an agile mindset, being open to testing and adapting.
- Granting autonomy to employees in making business decisions.
Establishing a strong digital culture within the organization is imperative for effective leadership. Regardless of age, context, or performance level, it is essential to acknowledge and reward progress.
HLB HAMT to Assist!
HLB HAMT is an independent member firm of HLB International, UK. It is one of the top 10 global advisory and accounting firms. With over 23 years of industry experience and an impressive client base of over 3,000 organizations, HLB HAMT offers expert guidance and assistance to navigate the complexities of today’s dynamic business landscape.
Our audit procedures are tailored to client operations and reporting requirements, specifically focusing on each business and industry. The experience of the audit team, covering many industries and service sectors, enables us to focus on critical areas of risk, adequacy of internal controls, and potential areas of fraud.
For any audit-related queries or assistance, reach out to email@example.com
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