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Complexity and Knowledge Management Navigators…

Tech sneaking up on you…

I was asked to write a guest blog for the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) ‘Smoke Detector’ blog series, which is designed to act as an early detection process for the CPA profession in Indiana.  This is part of their Centre of Excellence approach to the CPA profession and links to the development of CPA competencies, as a preventative action to improve resilience, and a SkillsWeb, as a way to quickly link professionals in the field with the knowledge they need (improving connectedness).

This is the first in their series of ‘Technofile’ blogs, looking at emerging technology and the implications for the profession.  Hope you enjoy and, if you get a chance, drop by and look at their blog, they’re working on some interesting things over there in Indiana…if it was only easier to get to 🙂

My turn to man the ‘Smoke Detector’ and, even though I didn’t sleep well last night, have no fear for there’ll be no fires on my watch!

Periodically we’ll give a snapshot of emerging technology/software and provide an insight into the implications for you and your organisations.  This is our first ‘Technofile’ blog and I look forward to hearing your feedback and/or links to other technology/software that you think we should consider for future blogs on the topic.

This week we have two offerings, first, soft data mining software (New Scientist, Nov 3 2012) and potential ramifications when writing financial reports and second, ‘Telepresence’ (New Scientist, Nov 10 2012) or how to be in two places at once.

Mind your language

There has been a lot of talk over the past year or so on Integrated Reporting and the value of soft data in determining the value/risk associated with organisations.  The interpretation of soft data is nuanced and the real message is often purposefully buried in complex data/information designed to confound the uninformed.  Well, where there is a void nature fills the gap and it is no different in the business world, enter researchers at Chengchi University in Taiwan.

These researchers have designed an algorithm that mines for meaning in soft data/information within financial reports.  Traditionally data mining techniques have focused on the number of positive or negative words contained in a given text, but the value has been limited by the lack of meaning attributed to the words taken in isolation.  The new algorithm overcomes this problem and has the potential to mine soft data for soft data that diverge from the financial data presented.  “Numbers can be used to convey a picture that does not correspond to reality…they tend not to reveal what really keeps managers awake at night” (Vincent Papa, Director of Financial Reporting Policy, CFA Institute, London, p. 19).  The benefits of such a data mining process include increased transparency for investors and the development of more accurate company valuations.

This means that CPAs could have to move beyond rigour in quantitative methods to more carefully consider correlation between quantitative and qualitative data and information.  More consideration is going to have to be given to the risk associated with the use of language in financial reports and CPA firms could find themselves having to re-look at existing recruitment and professional development requirements.

Take this a step further and it is natural to ask, what impact on the development of Integrated Reporting procedures?  Could this be a future consideration for CPE?  What do you think?

The end to play, the boss might never be away!

You know the scenario…the boss is off to Los Angeles for a meeting and while the boss is away staff get to play (afternoon tee time anyone?).  Enjoy it while you can because days such as these could be a thing of the past.  More importantly, developments in ‘Telepresence’ technology means that your boss might not even be in the same country as you.  You could be managed by a ‘physical’ presence in your office in Indianapolis that is actually sitting having breakfast in Beijing!  On the upside, you could be working from your office in South Bend (Go Irish! – Kevin Kruggel has turned me into an Irish fan after I watched them beat Pitt in triple OT) while ‘physically’ managing project teams in London.  This is as simple as having a computer in one location and a robot or ‘Telepresence bot’ in another (see the picture below – and I love the promo pictures for this tech, everyone is just so happy).

Not the work of science fiction, this is today’s reality.  Doctors have conducted surgery 6,000 km away, children who need to be kept in isolation are ‘physically’ attending school, children who are in hospital can still be at home for birthday parties or ‘walk’ into their parent’s room in the middle of the night and let them know that they can’t sleep.  The significant note is that while past incarnations of this tech have priced many organisations out of the market, the latest versions, due for release in 2013, will cost the same as a high-end laptop – basically, if you can afford a Mac Book Pro, this tech is about to come within reach.  Not only that, but iPad operated versions are also in test-bed, which could see this as the latest ‘must have’ Holiday tech for 2014.

The implications for you and/or your clients is unknown at this time.  There is already talk of major retailers using this tech to create point-of-service ‘bots’, where one person could potentially manage 20-30 bots in different locations.  Telepresence bots that can physically manipulate the environment already exist, how long before your boss in Los Angeles is enjoying his morning coffee at her hotel, while at the same time wandering around the office in Indianapolis, unexpectedly dropping in on members of project teams for updates.  Perhaps a more concerning reality might be the potential for the role of US based CPAs to be reduced, managed by organisations in China, India or Russia – who knows.  What I will say, for those who heard me speak at Leadership Cabinet this month, is that this is where the need for an Indiana CPA Centre of Excellence approach comes in and where the INCPAS Competency Based Approach and FusionNet projects could determine which end of the ‘Telepresence bot’ you are experiencing.

The one thing I do know, I smell smoke!

One comment on “Tech sneaking up on you…

  1. Ros Smart
    November 18, 2012

    What do I think? …First of all, sell any shares you may have that relate to air travel – secondly, make sure you are living in a place you really like, thirdly – the soft-data mining probably will take a long time to burst into flames. The English language has a vast store of words. Many are synonyms with very subtle shifts in meaning and these can change very fast and vary from country to country, so I am not convinced that the data produced will prove to be very reliable.

So, what do you think?

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This entry was posted on November 17, 2012 by in Technology and tagged , , , , , , .
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