Automation will change businesses for the better, Thomson Reuters survey finds


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London, March 30, 2017 – Automation of systems and processes will disrupt organisations worldwide for the next quarter-century, according to a new survey by Thomson Reuters, in partnership with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Many companies, however, see opportunities in the coming wave of changes.

Thomson Reuters asked 452 survey participants in Europe, Asia and the Americas for their opinion on what disrupting forces would have the greatest impact on their businesses 25 years from now. Automation – where machines and computers undertake work traditionally undertaken by humans – was cited most frequently, with 51% of respondents naming it, followed by regulation/policy (43%), people issues (38%), and other technology not yet available (38%).

Survey participants were optimistic about increased automation, with 77% reporting automation will save time on monotonous tasks, 70% saying it will eliminate human error, and 53% arguing it will introduce controls and transparency. 75% of respondents said their business has a strong understanding of the potential opportunities created by technology and automation.

More widely, 74% of respondents saw the trend of “tech disruptors” as an opportunity.

Brian Peccarelli, president, Tax & Accounting, Thomson Reuters, said: “Disruption and innovation can be seen as the same thing; at the heart of both is the customer experience. The future is not about machines taking over, it’s about how we use machines to be more efficient and effective. The jobs will still be there, if the workforce is equipped with a new skill-set.

“Although change can be frightening there are many global opportunities for companies if they choose to embrace progress and innovation,” Peccarelli continued. “For example, with tax technology a multinational company can achieve consistency across geographical borders, languages and cultures – and that can decrease risk, increase transparency - helping them keep up with the increasing regulatory demands.”

Other survey findings included:

64% of respondents agreed that a machine would be doing the bulk of their monotonous tasks 25 years from now.
54% of respondents believe their business currently has the right skills to take advantage of technological developments.
41% reported that, in the next 25 years, government departments or regulatory bodies will become an automated function rather than a department.

This survey was aimed at accounting professionals that are members of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. The survey is followed by three exclusive roundtables in London, New York and Singapore. The survey’s results will form part of a report to be released in the second half of 2017.

Date: 
Thursday, March 30, 2017