If you listen to any current tech or business podcasts, chances are you will have heard one on how robots are taking over our jobs. The doomsayers say that computers (including robots and artificial intelligence) will have the capacity to overtake many jobs. Boston Consulting Group predicts that they will take over up to 25% of jobs by 2025. An Oxford University study shows this margin to be higher (35%) but gives a longer timeline of two decades. So what does this mean to you? – Well a lot. Maybe everything.
I am an Accounting Futurist – What is that you say? Well it’s a new term for accountants who believe the accounting industry is going through a significant shift. I believe that the role of bookkeepers will shift from a data entry role to one of an information manager. A person who managers the software technology (like the point of sale system’s) integration with the accounting systems (so they “talk” to each other). These systems will use a combination of OCR (where computers can read receipts etc.), artificial intelligence (machine learning) and data sharing (across systems) to create the reports that business owners need. The Accountant will provide oversight and consulting on these systems and be in a closer advisory capacity. So yes – I think a robot is taking over my job – or at least changing it.
But what about other occupations? On a recent podcast I heard, a computer program was being developed in Denmark to diagnos cancer. The program could analyze a biopsy and with 85% accuracy identify the source in the body (and thus target treatment). Ground-breaking medical advances are being made like this all the time and success rates are improving. Thus, it is easy to consider a future for doctors to be a much different one that the past where Artificial Intelligence plays a significant role in diagnosis and treatment. In fact, most professions will likely change.
We have already seen big changes in manufacturing with a move to Robotics. Robots and computers have taken over the repetitive tasks. It was predicted to be a devastation to our economy and in some locales, it was (at least in the short term). It appears that it will continue to an even greater degree over the next few decades.
I heard on the radio yesterday a prediction that on demand automated fleet cars will replace vehicle ownership by 2030. This is only 13 years away! The radio announcer discussed its impact on car dealerships and used car value. The did not mention another huge industry that would be impacted by automated cars – the transportation industry. Trucks drivers, deliver people etc. could potentially be replaced by a computer behind the wheel.
Very few industries are estimated to be untouched but of course the effect on some will likely be worse than others. So, should we stop the advance of technology to save jobs and our economy? Consider that the medical advances and quicker diagnostics tools could save many lives. These advances are designed to not only increase our standard of life but our standard of work. They will make way for more knowledge based jobs that engage and challenge the individual and are not based on repetitive tasks.
Specific economies will be hurt by the advances but those that can grab hold of these advances will have tremendous opportunities. These areas need to plan for their future and their success. Rural economies can develop and support tech businesses which will bring jobs and economic prosperity to their region.
But the onus should not just be on local governments and not for profits to forward these initiatives. Individual’s should plan now. If you look at your own position and see an end as technology advances why not start training now for the future? I am not saying quite your job. I am saying do not wait until it is too late – start opening doors now.
Will Robots take our jobs? I think mine will change dramatically and I am confident enough in this belief that I created an accounting practice around it. I don’t want to be left behind and I am excited for the future. What about you?
Alissa Bryden is the owner of Virtual Heights Accounting. A CPA and Business Coaching firm located in Rossland, BC. We are a virtual firm focused on using cloud based technologies to reduce the administrative burden of business owners. Focusing on bookkeeping, accounting, business coaching and development with a tech focus. www.vhaccounting.ca. The above represent our own opinions any comments, please comment here or feel free to contact us.