Goodbye and Good Riddance to Compliance. But just how far will robots and automation shave off the compliance workload. And will robots meet with your clients?
In mid last year there was excitement on the release of robots which mimic human walking habits, with videos released of the humanoid Durus. Later last year a massive 4 metre Avatar like robot was built in South Korea.
Ok, so if you think that robots taking over compliance jobs isn’t realistic, then last month Bill Gates suggested that the robot that takes over your job should pay taxes. The article argued that governments should tax companies’ use of robots, as a way of at least temporarily slowing the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment. This arguable means that robots and automation is impacting society so fast, that humans and their structures (government) can’t cope with the change. The Robot tax is to fund to train workers displaced by robots.
This was also considered by the European Union, who considered a robot law, but rejected a robot tax. The legislation discussed the ethical framework including establishment of liability for actions of robots including self-driving cars. We have yet to see the full impact of self driving cars: will there be windscreens, where will the ticket collector put the fine, will the car drive away from a ticket collector if they can access security cameras and notice the ticket collector, will we need parking meters, will we need car parks??
So would this tax be rolled out to tax the likes of the Cloud accounting, bookkeeping and tax software products where automation is destabilizing compliance: probably not as the impact isn’t immediately measurable whereas factory workers replacement is directly identifiable. Even though we see plenty of news recently about bots that are going to assist Australian accountants.
Automation will certainly replace many jobs. Last month the “In the Black” article noted services have taken up the jobs that were lost to robots, but this is an ongoing trend that has been happening for 30 years.
Interestingly the biggest cause of job shedding has been improvements in productivity by changes in technology and processes. Automation erodes the competitive advantage of lower-wage producers overseas, making it increasingly viable for work to be returned and done “in Australia”.
Interpreting this in our Australian Compliance area, you can expect that there is a short term move to push low value work overseas to lower-wage producers, but in the longer term you can expect that the work will be returned once automation impacts the work done.
Businesses using technology to provide customized products and services, or who make technically advanced services that feed into supply chains, are prospering. And Australian businesses regard customization as increasingly important in business.
So, as an Australian accounting firm, I wouldn’t rush into setting anything offshore any time soon, and I wouldn’t worry that we aren’t training enough accountants in Australia. What we should be doing is embracing the cloud and automation, and making short term use of offshore resources while we re-train our local Australian staff in future areas.