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Rethinking the Accounting industry in an era of disruption

​Researchers from different fields of Accounting and Business management walked away from this year’s International Conference of Accounting and Business with new insights into the future of their profession and clear takeaways on where to focus their attention as the industry evolves and adapts in an age of disruption.

Inevitabilities like artificial intelligence, digital currency, data analytics and cybersecurity were some of the pressing, on-trend topics addressed in the more than 12 sessions that took place over two days on July 30 -31 2019, at Auckland Park Kingsway Campus. Some sessions tackled important industry-specific issues, including regulation and standards, internal audit and tax reform. Organisational and professional development advice including evolving leadership, change management and risk assessment were also topics that engaged and challenged the status quo.

The event, hosted by the School of Accounting within the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) saw panels of South African and foreign experts discussing aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), emerging accounting issues including Blockchain and cryptocurrency, the audit of 2020 and beyond, and emerging tech issues in accounting. The central theme of this highly acclaimed conference was ‘Accounting and Business in the era of industry 4.0.’

“The purpose of the conference is to bring together researchers from different fields of Accounting and Business management in order to share methods and ideas that will change the order of the business in areas of advisory, tax and accounting such that it can be automated,” said Prof Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research & Internationalization, during his welcoming remarks.

The conference was structured in twelve parallel research sessions. About 40 researchers, whose research papers had been selected during a double-blind review process by a Scientific Committee, presented their research to an audience composed of among others, researchers from academia and revenue authorities with policy makers, civil society and tax administrators.

“ICT has become a very key component of the base of the university. Our research needs to be innovative and intensive in order to have a socio-economic impact,” explained Prof Sinha. “We should shape the future we want to see by looking into learning faster and governing smarter”.

During the policy panels, the high-level panelists deliberated on 1) harnessing Information Technology (IT) systems to drive business success 2) Measures to prevent economic crime in South Africa: Auditing & Forensic Investigation, 3) inclusion of cyber security awareness as part of a university curriculum and 4) how best to approach technology investment decisions.

At the discussion panel devoted to social responsibility, policy makers and experts were of the same opinion that drivers such as Blockchain, making tax digital, and open banking are changing work for accountants, and they need to get ahead of the game and ensure they are not left behind.

Nowadays, changes are taking place constantly. In the near future, it might be necessary to make a serious decision as to whether and how to apply taxes for robots which are gradually replacing employees at enterprises. Along with new technologies and innovations, there will be more and more new and innovative types of economic crimes, and supervisory bodies must be ready for them. Therefore, the experts of several panel discussions appreciated the undertaking of the accounting profession to be open for future, new challenges and economic realities.

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