Technology - a friend or a foe?
The impact of enabling technology on the accountant - How to maximise the opportunities created, while mitigating the risk.
Mr Lawrence D Gudza, Managing Director GB Computers was our speaker. He studied Business Studies and IT at Glasgow University , Scotland and started his working life by lecturing in the same subjects at the same institution. After independence he returned to Zimbabwe as one of the pioneers in the IT industry. He has broad experience of delivering IT solutions to all sectors of the economy. He is the current President of the Computer Society of Zimbabwe and represents Zimbabwe on the International Federation for Information Processing. He has presented papers on IT in many countries including Brazil, Japan, Egypt, France and South Africa . The workshop was held at the Harare Club, in the city centre.
Mr Gudza elaborated on the benefits of technology. Reports that took hours to assemble can now be prepared, distributed and consumed in seconds. Technology, says Mr Gudza, "offers tremendous benefits by reducing time, cost and resources needed to manipulate information." Accuracy, reliability and speed of transmission are enhanced. Technology has enabled the global movement towards e-business in which organisations are increasingly leveraging the internet to lower costs, operate more efficiently, enhance their performance and make valuable contributions to business information supply chains. Business can use technology as a competitive advantage.
As with all advances there is a down side. There is an increase in white-collar crimes, as the criminally inclined have taken advantage of technology and the gaps created. The loss of the human interface and bulk processing has created opportunities for fraud and related crimes. The risk areas include accounting software, electronic signatures, and websites. Accountants need to rise to the challenge by acquiring new skills like, systems analysis and design and forensic accounting.
The accountant plays an important role in the dissemination of information. The global market is moving towards a disclosure-based system using the best international standards. Business requirements are changing inline with the opportunities created by globalisation and the technology to deliver at a global level. These changes are affecting all professions including accountants. Global markets are challenging accountants to evolve. Technology has become an intricate part of life. Change is here to stay, the profession has to diversify skills sets and roles. Mr Gudza gave examples of how in some markets accountants are moving into systems design and implementation, rather than being passive users.
He concluded by stressing that the role of accountants is evolving in response to advances in technology. Modern accountants need to understand the opportunities created by the emerging technology and harness this for the benefit of business. They need to be in the driving seat, deciding on the priorities and business models that technology will then serve. In his own words "they need to be the dog that wags the tail".
The workshop and Q&A session were well received by the 33 delegates who attended. They included our members as well as those from the other professional bodies. They liked his use of plain business language and simple examples to make his points throughout his presentation.