Dubai, UAE: Financial professionals share a sense of optimism about digital transformation including artificial intelligence (AI).
The Digital Horizons survey – which garnered 1,074 responses from the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA) members across the globe - saw a range of key organisational benefits in adopting digital technologies including flexibility/adaptability, quality of products and services, sustainability performance, transparency, and regulatory compliance (72%).
Fazeela Gopalani, Head of ACCA Middle East, said, "Our members in the Middle East have always been forward-thinking and adaptable. This report demonstrates their readiness to embrace AI and other digital technologies. It's an exciting time for the accounting profession in our region."
However, the report also noted that financial professionals still see the main benefit of technology as offering efficiency/process improvements: 52% ranked efficiency, internal process optimisation or cost savings in their top three objectives when adopting new technology. Only 18% included competition-related reasons, such as responding to customer demands, enhancing market insights, introducing 24/7 capabilities, or maintaining competitive advantage.
Cost remains the top challenge when adopting technology, but organisational culture also remains a critical factor in successful adoption.
The survey did see a more mixed response to how technology supports personal objectives. Productivity (cited by 85% of respondents), collaboration (76%), and career development (65%) were all strong but fears over job security were apparent, and only 30% saying technology was supportive in that respect. The impact on career development was notably positive, with many roundtable discussions revolving around access to learning and more flexible opportunities.
The ACCA members show a high level of trust in artificial intelligence (AI). 70% agreed with the statement ‘AI can increase the amount of time I have to focus on business-critical tasks’ – only 9% disagreed, with 15% neutral. They were less sure of the idea of AI performing business critical tasks (50% agreeing, 21% and 22% disagreeing or neutral) but even so the numbers reflected a sense of optimism. Although just under one-fifth report the implementation of AI within their organisation, and another 8% are trialling initiatives, there are clearly great aspirations and a considerable opportunity to leverage these new capabilities.
Gopalani added, "Accounting professionals all over the world need to think beyond mere efficiency gains. We should strive to gain a deeper understanding of the value of AI, adapting our skills and practices to fully harness its potential."
The Digital Horizons report sets a foundation for an exploration of developments that are likely to change the near to medium-term future of accountancy and finance. Read the full report.
Media Contacts – Middle East:
Jola Chudy | firstname.lastname@example.org | 971 50 156 0159
Sheila Tobias | email@example.com | 971 55 567 4158
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