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Understanding ABCD-Demystifying Technologies  


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.

Some of the Business Areas, where AI can be/is being used are:

  • AI in Banking in providing better interest recommendations to customers
  • Offer suggestive actions for Non-Performing assets
  • Anti-money laundering i.e. in analysis of potentially fraudulent transactions
  • Auditing i.e. in analysis of huge data  and fraud detection
  • Portfolio management , in predicting better ROI for investments
  • Speech recognition in customer care centres
  • Gathering Market intelligence
  • Area of Healthcare in diagnosing problems ahead of time, providing a better life to people at large
  • Area of farming in analysing farm soil related data for better analysis

 

Impact and Opportunities to Chartered Accountants


With the industry moving towards Artificial intelligence at a rapid pace, many of the analytical tasks will done through algorithms, thereby increasing speed and accuracy. Hence its imperative professionals have an understanding of the underlying AI technology to aid in the auditing/accounting/consulting related work. Further, a strong business understanding will aid professionals in providing consulting services for technology implementations in the areas of AI





Block chain

A block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a block chain is resistant to modification of the data. It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way". For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority.

Block chain enables to get all the related parties in the ecosystem   on to the network thereby ensuring the following:


  • Duplication of capturing data  is avoided
  • Transaction cost are reduced given intermediaries are eliminated
  • The data in the distributed and all the parties in the Block chain are accessing the single version of truth
  • Block chain eliminates reconciliations, since all the parties are accessing the same data

 

Block chain can be a private block chain( restricted) or a Public Block chain accessible to all

The typical Business use cases of a Block chain would be in cross Border inter-Bank payments LC transactions , Stock exchange trading where multiple parties are involved. Bitcoin uses block chain technology and is not the same as block chain, although at times interchangeably used.


Impact to Chartered Accountants


  • Procedures adopted for conducting audits  will have to be relooked at
    • Sampling
    • Reconciliation,
    • Timing of procedures i.e Real-time Analysis of data/Real time reporting of data.
  • Methodology adopted for testing the  Audit Financial Assertions will change
  • Accounting ledgers can also be on the Block, and the concept of “”immutability”” will help in “True and Fair Assertions””
  • Legal  agreements will be based on “Smart contracts”, which uses block chain technology

 

Opportunities for Chartered Accountants


  • Providing Business Expertise to Block chain implementations as a Business process expert and helping eliminate unnecessary processes through automation.
  • Assurance services like risk assessment  for new Block chain implementations
  • Conducting technology audits on Block chain implementations/Block chain enabled processes.




Cyber Security

Computer security, cybersecurity or  information technology security (IT security) is the protection of computer systems from theft or damage to their hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. The field is growing in importance due to increasing reliance on computer systems, the Internet and wireless networks such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and due to the growth of "smart" devices, including smartphones, televisions and the various tiny devices that constitute the Internet of things. Due to its complexity, both in terms of politics and technology, it is also one of the major challenges of the contemporary world. Some of the cybersecurity threats are


  • Phishing, whereby users are lured into taking actions by sending emails
  • OS/Network/Database/Router/Firewall level compromise
  • Key loggers, wherein the key strokes are captured to identify the users credentials
  • Denial of service attacks which results in unavailability of information series
  • Social engineering

Cyber Security threats can be addressed by organizations as follows:


  • By having a  strong governance over technology design, procurement and implementation
  • Strong technical expertise with the organization at all levels, application, operating systems, databases, networks( Routers, firewalls, Network links)
  • Implementing monitoring controls  at all levels referred above, real-time analysis of the potential threats and immediate action
  • Implementation of IT security policies and continual user education.

 

Impact and Opportunities to Chartered Accountants


The accuracy and integrity of the data can be highly impacted due to the abovementioned threats. Hence, professionals need to be better equipped with a thorough understanding of the technology stack, as the entire technology landscape continues to become more complex. The complex technology threats, brings forth opportunities for professionals to be trusted advisors to Managements boards Chief information systems officer, Chief technical information systems officer etc. to assess Business impact of technology risks and address the same. Further with a strong combination of Business acumen coupled with technical understanding opens up opportunities for professionals, in technology areas where Business expertise is required.





Data Analytics

Analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data; and the process of applying those patterns towards effective decision making. In other words, analytics can be understood as the connective tissue between data and effective decision making, within an organization.

Some of the Business use cases are as follows:

 

    Ensuring platform stability and 24*7 uptime of the IT production environment through data analytics and prompt action

    • To describe, predict, and improve business performance
    • Marketing mix modeling
    • Call analytics,
    • Speech analytics,
    • Credit risk analysis,
    • Fraud analytics.

    Impact and Opportunities to Chartered Accountants


    Going forward, Big data and analytics will be “King”, given it will help seize future opportunities to propel market growth. While Big data is the new Oil, it needs a refinery of data analytics to put Big data to productive use and transform Businesses. With new  data analystics tools like Tableau, professionals who already have a strong business understanding will help in providing data intelligence to the management thereby playing a pivotal role Business transformation.