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What is the 4th Industrial Revolution (and why CPAs should care)?

Arun Mathur
· Aug 12, 2022

The 1st Industrial Revolution was the steam engine.

The 2nd Industrial Revolution was electricity.

The 3rd Industrial Revolution was computing.

And now the 4th Industrial Revolution is about intelligence - smart automation, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, machine learning, and biotechnology.

Each revolution impacted the business landscape. The 4th Industrial Revolution will also have implications for employment, training, and corporate structuring.

In the midst of tremendous disruption, there will be a wholesale change in the way we live in the future. Artificial intelligence and automation are about to change everything.

Organizations are automating their business processes and reducing human involvement in every sector of the economy. This will have serious implications for everyone. Just imagine how the introduction of automobiles changed human activity. The same disruption is happening today. Entire industries could be eclipsed and new industries will be forming. 

The CPA profession will be no exception to that. Accounting professionals will need to consider their careers carefully and whether technology will replace their work. They need to understand what the emerging growth areas are. Will they need to upgrade their skills? Learn new things? Trailblaze new pathways in the accounting profession?

We see environmental, social, and governance measurement and data analytics as important emerging fields to look out for. CPAs could take a leading role in standard setting, measurement, and reporting. We can see a shift from financial accounting to impact accounting happening in the area of climate change and sustainability. 

Lenders, regulators, and employees want corporations to move from profit to purpose. This means every corporate entity will have to show that they are good corporate citizens, they are not hurting the environment, they are not contributing to the climate crisis. 

The CPA profession exists to protect the public interest in our society. Now, climate change and sustainability are critical components of the public interest.

The profession must embrace this reality.


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