Jul 2016

Relax, a robot might not take 98% of your compliance work

By: Odyssey In the Press
Tags: Automation, Digitisation, obsolete, Offshoring

There have been plenty of reports recently about jobs areas “at risk” due to computerization, commoditization and offshoring.

A 2013 report on “the future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization” talks about factors impacting work in the future including the surge in computing power, streamlining of tasks and offshoring. Certainly these issues are still relevant today. This report estimated 47% of US jobs could be taken by robots in the next two decades.

Going back to Alan Blinder’s 2007 report, he estimates that 22 to 29 percent of US jobs are or will be offshorable in the next decade or two.

Earlier this year the World Economic Forum forecast that 5 million jobs might be lost to robots, with 2/3 of those to come from office and administrative roles.

A CSIRO report earlier this year mentioned nearly half of Australia’s workforce is at risk of computerization and automation.

Perhaps it’s not all that bad. An OECD report released in May 2016 examined the tasks performed in jobs and discovered most jobs involved a bundle of tasks and only some of which could easily be handled by machines.

As this article notes, clerks who do book-keeping, accounting and auditing were from the 2013 paper by Frey and Osborne be at the risk of being displaced by computers at 98 per cent (refer page 71). But it turns out three-quarters of those jobs require group work or face-to-face interaction which are tasks that are very hard to automate.

Fast forward to a few years, and the impact of automation, computerization, digitization and offshoring will certainly have put a huge dent in the compliance workload of Australian accountants.

Certainly there can be no accountant in Australia now who hasn’t seen the benefits of cloud computing, and every accountant by now has certainly pondered offshoring and outsourcing.

Certainly economic, legal and societal hurdles will hamper the adoption of new technologies. However, accountants need to make the decision today to switch tasks as new technology is introduced and so avoid being rendered obsolete or non-competitive.