Guest Lecture from Monash University, Australia

On Thursday, 5 September 2019, our program organised a guest lecture session in collaboration with Monash University, Australia. This session was attended by a range of participants, from lecturers, professionals, as well as students. On this occasion, Professor Michaela Rankin (Deputy Dean, International, Monash Business School), delivered her presentation on the topic of How Accountants Can Survive Industry 4.0. The first part of the session revolves around industry 4.0 in general and the technologies in industry 4.0 that are transforming business, such as big data and analytics, the internet of things, cybersecurity, and the cloud.


Next, the session went on to discuss the impact of industry 4.0 on the accounting profession. While many people out there focus on the threat perspective that the profession will fade away, actually there is another side of the story. The industry 4.0 brings opportunities to the profession as well as offers numerous benefits. With the advancement in technology, the routine, slow and manual processes that somewhat has been a trademark when people think of accounting, will be removed. This means accountants can focus and spend more time on adding value to the business. Accountants are no longer regarded as bookkeepers, but rather as advisors and strategic business partners for the business. With the presence of cloud technology, businesses can lower their infrastructure costs as well. Emerging technologies can also serve as tools to help businesses make better decisions.


In order to become the businesses’ strategic business partners, accountants need to hone their skills in several areas. For example, they must be able to perform effective communication and relationship building. Thinking outside the box (how to think creatively) is another important skill to face uncertainties in the future. Of course, accountants must also be tech savvy in order to be able to use the technology that is changing rapidly. Theoretical and practical understanding of data analytics is also of high priority, so that accountants can help businesses to interpret Big Data and give insights based on those data to support decision-making process. Another important skill is the ethics skill, which is inherent in any professions, including accounting.


In the end, the session was closed with what accounting educators should do in light of these changes. First and foremost, the accounting curriculum must be continuously reassessed in order to maintain its relevance. A concrete example of this would be to include data analytics topic into the program’s core curriculum. Another one might be to combine accounting with other disciplines, such as liberal arts and IT. Academicians must also put soft skills, such as communication, problem solving, analytical, creativity, and emotional intelligence skills, equally as important as hard (technical accounting) skills. In addition, a close relationship between higher education institutions and firms must be maintained and improved, so that educators can understand what skills and expertise expected from firms, hence can ensure that future accounting graduates are ready for those skills.