Alec RossDo you have the skills needed to succeed in the digital age? For insights on this and so much more, join us for the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) event of the year: the 2018 Annual Conference & Expo (ACE2018), to be held at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis from June 16-20, 2018. You can choose from more than 70 sessions to customize your learning experience along nine Specialty Tracks designed exclusively for management accountants; click here to register.

Among the accomplished and inspiring speakers at this year’s event will be Alec Ross, New York Times best-selling author and former senior advisor for innovation at the U.S. State Department. Currently a candidate for Governor of Maryland, Ross shared his insights on some of the most pressing issues facing the profession. He’ll elaborate more in his keynote session titled “Understanding Our Changing World.” Don’t miss it!

On the role of government in the digital transformation of society:

Government has always been at the forefront of using technology as a driver of change. GPS and the Internet were both created through government projects. Even Google was the product of federal government-funded research for a couple of Stanford graduate students.

In terms of the future, I see government incorporating technologies like blockchain into their business functions and in so doing, playing a role as “market maker” helping with the mainstreaming and mass adoption of blockchain-based applications. In addition, I think we can expect government to play the role of rule-maker and standards-setter, helping to establish do’s and don’ts in the regulatory domain.

On the impact of blockchain and other disruptive technologies on the accounting and finance profession:

Blockchain and other disruptive technologies will contribute to both the promise and peril of the accounting and finance profession.

On the positive side, the use of blockchain-enabled software – basically the code-ification of trust – will take high-cost friction out of asset settlements and facilitate the flow of capital globally. The peril is for those individuals resistant to change. An unwillingness to adopt and adapt to innovations in the marketplace will make change-averse accounting and finance professionals vulnerable to time passing them by. This, in turn, will pose threats to their standing in the profession and their economic well-being.

On the skills that accounting and finance professionals need to thrive in the future:

First, they’ll need skills that can’t be outsourced to software: emotional intelligence, communications ability, and critical thinking. Algorithms can’t do any of these. In addition, they’ll need the ability to adapt to a fast-changing market. As quick as the pace of change has been over the last 10 years, that pace is only going to increase.

On the ethical challenges of automation:

People treat algorithms as if they were created by divine beings. Algorithms are written by humans, and as such they take on the values, intentions, and biases of humans. Being conscious of the bias baked into algorithms is an ethical imperative. In addition, we need to think about how we help people adapt to a fast-changing future. Humans aren’t as easy to update as software. You can’t just plug us into a wall, connect us to Wi-Fi, and update our operating system in 20 minutes. Automation of many forms of labor that people rely on for their financial well-being will force us to ask and answer tough questions about how we care for those who are not as adaptable as others.

For a full list of ACE speakers, click here. You can also join the conversation at #IMA18ACE