How CAs can stay ahead of the digital curve

Digital business
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

21 June 2016

In an increasingly digital world, Eleanor O'Neill takes a look at how CAs can stay ahead of the curve.

Technology and business are becoming more intrinsically integrated year on year with customer interactions going online, data and records being stored in cloud farms and artificial intelligence systems writing company reports.

Jonathan Tate, UK and EMEA Technology Consulting Leader at PwC, has said: "Everyone from marketing to operations to back office functions is desperate to embrace the digital revolution.

"With competition only increasing, developing the right strategies to stay afloat is essential. Industry should be working to attract top talent, whilst also looking to re-skill their existing workforce.

"The UK's skills shortage is fixable, but we need to take steps now to ensure our continued place at the cutting edge of innovation."

Digital disruption

In its research publication, 'Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond', PwC addressed the effect the digital revolution has had and will continue to have on the industry.

The firm has concluded that embracing the disruption caused by digital growth is the best way forward as clients, customers and much of the competition have adjusted to the new norm already. Innovation is vital.

The report outlines the main technological areas that are going to become essential for businesses by 2020, including customer analytics, digital regulation and cyber security.

PwC has also suggested that businesses should make updating IT resources and retaining employees with digital skills and knowledge a priority.

Julien Courbe, PwC’s Global FS Technology Leader, said: “Financial services providers may feel that they have already seen this movie. The priorities we list – like updating your IT operating model and slashing costs by simplifying legacy systems – have always been good things to do.

"But how they will do it, and why, is quite different from what they may have thought about until now. Financial institutions need to start thinking quickly about refreshing their strategy for 2020 and beyond.”

The skills gap

In a series of articles produced in partnership with Interactive Scotland, recruitment experts Nine Twenty assessed the impact digital revolution has had on the job market.

The overall conclusion is a need for specialised digital skill sets in candidate pools rather than general digital knowledge.

Digital Marketing specialist Ainsley Millar said: "Clients have a responsibility to be realistic about what they need vs what they want from their digital staff and understand that additional support might be required.

"Most agency clients are able to provide the training for the candidates to gain the specific skills needed as well as the creative environment where ideas can grow."

Gordon Brown, Nine Twenty Managing Director, added: " We encourage our clients to upskill staff where possible as we know that training and development opportunities are now legitimate employee benefits."

'Digital skills for the UK economy' is a piece of research conducted by Ecorys UK with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and the Department for Media, Culture & Sport.

The findings claim that a continued shortage of suitable digital skills in the UK labour market is a major risk to business growth, innovation and broader societal development.

All sectors and organisations need to improve and re-skill in order to maximise their competitive potential offered by the rapidly developing applications of digital technologies.

How CAs can answer the call

ICAS is dedicated to creating leaders of the future and helping our members stay at the forefront of business.

Our professional development programme, ‘Making your professional development count’, now includes a new partnership with FutureLearn, offering members the opportunity to get up to speed with some of the major digital concerns outlined by PwC for free.

Andrew Penker, ICAS Director of People explained: “The ICAS / FutureLearn members collection allows us to highlight the most relevant courses available and the real benefit is that all you need is wi-fi to access them, as they’re all free.

“Developed by leading global universities and organisations, they provide open access to a range of relevant topics for CAs and their organisations, wherever they are in the world at whatever stage of their career.

The full list of courses also covers social mediaeffective networking, managing your online identity, developing cultural intelligence for leadership and leading a team.


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