As the technological disruption tremors continue sweeping through different professions and have started rending people jobless, accountants have been advised to swiftly embrace technology so as to “disrupt” their businesses without “disrupting” themselves.
According to the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAU) president Protazio Begumisa, swift adoption will enable accountants increase efficiency, remain competitive and stay ahead of ‘disruptive’ online accounting services.
Like other professions, the accounting industry is increasingly feeling the effects of technological advancement, especially given the arrival of cloud-based accounting a decade ago.
Cloud accounting is the use of web-based software to manage accounts online. The software sends data into "the cloud," where it is processed and returned to the user.
Begumisa told New Vision in an interview that digital technology has replicated some of the functions of accountants, offering speedier and cheaper solutions.
“Accountants need to consider their role in this transformation and take steps to prepare for a digital future,” he said.
Emphasis for the upcoming anniversary celebration is being placed on embracing technology to meet the changing needs and demands of their clients.
Begumisa further noted that in a “disruption economy”, the most successful companies are those that view business through the lens of the customer.
“Innovative companies are exploiting this shift, challenging the status quo and restructuring traditional industries through the use of technology. Disruptive companies zero in on a customer need and use technology to remove unnecessary steps, costs and time,” he said.
He added: “Every modern and industrialised country exploited the use of technology; we therefore need it if we are to grow and also support the country’s efforts of becoming middle income economy as per the 2020 target. With more innovation, we could easily bridge the gap in financial inclusion, heath services delivery, trade and logistical management.”
The state minister for finance in charge of economic planning David Bahati also alluded to the need for businesses to adapt the changing technology trends, saying that ICT is strategic intervention areas that will oil the country journey to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
He added that government has set up an ICT innovation support program, to enhance growth of ICT skills and innovation across the country.
This, he said, will support the country’s efforts to develop a robust agro processing industry, and scale up the services sector to create more jobs, and significantly reduce poverty by 2040.
Expensive internet an obstacle to growth
Despite the willingness of businesses to adapt to the technological advancement trend, efforts are being frustrated by limited internet coverage and high cost of internet packages.
The MTN managing director Wim Vanhelleputte said that while 80% of internet users in Uganda use wireless mobile devices such as smart phones, penetration is limited due to high taxes and unaffordable prices.
“Even though Uganda has had a surge in the uptake of smart phones, statistics indicate penetration has remained at 15%, pausing the biggest challenge to internet access and usage. This must change before there is a real impact of ICT on the economy,” he said.
He said only about 8.5 million Ugandans have regular access to the internet, out of which approximately 4.3million use their mobile handsets for internet access, yet at least 80% of the population should have access.
The Director of Managed Services at NFT Consul, Elizabeth Ntege also noted that unreliable and unstable electricity remains a big challenge to access and use of the internet, since power is usually switched off without notice, especially during the rainy season.
Data from the Uganda Communications Commission indicate that the number of internet users increased 7.9% in 2016 to 16,765,686 from15, 531,954 the previous year.