As the profession changes and adapts to these emerging technologies, we’re really going to see two roles really start to show up. First is this concept of a business analyst, and, actually, I think that’s what we as CPAs are really designed for, especially those of us coming from the audit discipline. It’s the greater understanding of an organization as a whole and the systems — not the technology, but the overall systems — that are actually in play in an organization.
What are the processes? What’s driving those processes? What are the nonfinancial things that are then driving the financial things like revenue or expenses and then perhaps driving a financial outcome? That’s one role. It’s that business analyst.
The second role is really more of the data scientists, or it’s the one that’s really looking at all this data. So one is the system and the overall process and what’s happening. The other one is the underlying data that’s generated by that and what does the data actually mean? How do we take that data and train it into information, and then draw the insights out of that information.
And then it’s really the two together that then is truly driving increased performance in organizations, providing advisory services to clients, and really looking at the big picture: What is happening in an organization, what is the underlying data or evidence that actually tells us what we think is true, and then what do we do to improve performance and improve outcomes?