By Hannah Carmichael, Associate Director, Risk, Compliance & Professional Standards at Grant Thornton

Everyone has experienced first-hand how technology can improve their everyday lives. Technology has changed the way we bank, pay for goods, track our physical activity, and communicate.

In a world where we have voice-assisted household tools such as Alexa in our homes, it makes sense that people are now asking: “Are we doing all we should be to leverage technology in our workplaces?”

As millennials enter management roles in firms, not only are they embracing digital advancement, they expect it.

The types of technologies available to us and the extent to which they are being used are continually evolving.

In the accounting field, data powered analytics offer valuable insights to those who can interpret the numbers, enabling us to focus our attention on transactions that pose a heightened risk of fraud or error.


Hannah Carmichael
Hannah Carmichael


Analytics can be used to highlight inefficient processes, ineffective controls or unusual accounting practices through benchmarking against comparable peers. Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms now automate traditional, time-consuming tasks.

As a result, the face of accounting is changing. Professionals in business need to embrace continuous learning and build a learning plan beyond their typical CPD, and this applies to all disciplines and industries.

As automation takes on a bigger proportion of the work, firms are recruiting privacy and cybersecurity experts and computer system specialists. Not only do organisations need to make sure that data is properly feeding into these tools, they must be responsive to the clients’ need of being comfortable with firms having their data and keeping it safe.

Firms also need to adapt to the changing regulatory requirements. As regulatory bodies modernise their standards, they are introducing new requirements to address the use of technological resources, both in the performance of work and the operation of quality management systems.

It’s clear that there needs to be a culture shift within firms, with each employee critically assessing how technology can help them.

However, it’s not just about developing new skills, or hiring a new mix of employees. Firms also need to think beyond new processes and services and spend equal time thinking about the people-side of implementation.

Gartner Inc recognise that 2020 will be a pivotal year in AI related employment dynamics, with AI creating more jobs than it eliminates.

Importantly, they note that for the greatest value, firms should focus on augmenting people with AI, and transform their culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats.

These changes will go a long way towards technology improving our workplace.

For further information or advice, Hannah Carmichael can be contacted at

Grant Thornton (NI) LLP specialises in audit, tax and advisory services and was ranked by Experian as the Number 1 deal adviser in Northern Ireland in 2018