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Accountants have no future outside of disruptive technology and must find their place in the digital economy, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has told the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN).

Pantami, who was making a virtual keynote address at the 25th Annual Conference of Certified National Accountants with the theme” Disruptive Technologies and Innovation: The Place of the Accountant,” said the future of the accounting profession requires it to embrace disruptive technology. Accountants must adopt the use of technology in the execution of accounting activities, he said.

 “Your theme, ‘Disruptive Technologies and Innovation: The Place of the Accountant’ is well thought-out and very timely. People seeing this theme can think this is some digital economy conference! As we develop the digital economy of Nigeria, all sectors must embrace it and integrate technology into their activities” said Pantami as he urged the accountants to find their place in Nigeria’s steady walk into the digital economy.

The digital economy is where the world is headed, the minister noted. “A focus on growing the National Digital Economy will also improve our traditional economy and will enable us to get a slice of the Global Digital Economy, which Oxford Economics values at $11.5 trillion dollars or approximately 16% of the Global Economy. This value is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. The World Economic Forum also predicts that over 60% of global GDP will be digitized by 2022 and that over the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70% of new value.”

More importantly, accountants must begin to re-skill themselves by leveraging emerging technologies to remain relevant as the world’s digital economy grows.

“Emerging technologies change from time to time since they are technologies that ‘emerge’ or ‘evolve’. The accounting profession can benefit from many emerging technologies,” said Pantami as he listed how some emerging technologies could impact positively on the accounting profession.

He added: “Artificial Intelligence (AI.) enables a machine to demonstrate a similar level of intelligence like a human being. Through A.I. administrative tasks can be automated thus enabling accountants to analyse the data and insights that the AI. process has provided. Accountants sieve through data to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. AI. can enable accountants identify patterns in order to interpret them.

“Blockchain is a distributed, decentralized, public ledger. It is a system of recording information that makes it extremely difficult to alter, hack or deceive the system. Accountants want to ensure that records are tamper-proof and Blockchain provides a system that can easily support this process,”

The minister went on to highlight the value of cloud computing to accounts.

“Records keep increasing over time and it is important to have sufficient storage that is reliable and accessible. Cloud computing provides this to possibility. Cloud computing provides computing resources, storage and processing power-on-demand and it can be operated without the active management of the user. In other words, the user does not need to have expert knowledge of cloud computing to utilize the service.

“Furthermore, today’s accountant may need to access and utilize some customized software to carry out tasks. A number of this software are expensive to purchase for individual use. The good thing is that many software vendors now provide Software-as-a-Service over the cloud. Accountants can use this as a cost-effective and efficient option for carrying out their tasks.”

Even more, accountants have data analytics and ed-tech to improve efficiency and build new skills within the demands of their profession, the minister told his audience.

His words: “Data is often referred to as the new currency or new oil of the digital economy. We now generate a vast amount of data but these are of little value if we cannot make inferences from them. Data analytics is a technology that can support accountants in this regard. It refers to the process of analysing data in order to obtain insights about the information that they contain. It works hand in hand with Artificial Intelligence.

“Accounting is a profession that requires life-long learning and mentorship. EdTech can enable you reach a large number of trainees regardless of their geographic location.

“For example, we launched the DigitalNigeria.gov.ng platform just over a month ago and we already have over 72,000 enrollees, several of whom have already received their training certificates. We are also developing a National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy.

“Emerging technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can significantly enhance the experience of accounting trainees. Also, all the emerging technologies discussed earlier can be taught using Ed-Tech and I encourage you to take advantage of them.”

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