Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg
Technology continues to change the business world and business education. A familiarity with artificial intelligence, data analytics and automation is quickly becoming a central skill for graduates across all disciplines. For the last few years, the Fox Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program has incorporated these subjects into its special topics summer course. This summer, the course will formally be included as a requirement for the 30-credit, one-year MAcc as Advanced Data Analytics and Innovation in Accounting.
“Advances in technology, data analytics and process automation have led to changes in the skills required of newly licensed CPAs and accounting professionals,” says Professor Sheri Risler, MAcc program director. “We’ve updated the MAcc curriculum to ensure our students are prepared with the skills required and to give them a competitive advantage in the profession.”
Meeting the evolving demands of the accounting profession, this course investigates advanced topics in accounting technology through a module-based class with hands-on, case-based learning. Developed by Professor Cory Ng, the course will include practical experience with software applications such as Tableau; and in future semesters, Alteryx and UiPath.
Building off of the Enterprise Systems & Data Analytics course (previously listed as Enterprise Systems & Internal Controls), the class will include advanced work in Tableau, a visualization software that can help accountants analyze and present information to clients. Students are able to create meaningful displays of quantitative and qualitative data for decision-making.
“Accountants need to know how to use the tools and more importantly, how to interpret the results and communicate the results,” says Ng. “They’re well-positioned to not only look at financial statement data but also operational data through these different tools.”
The class will also explore the use of artificial intelligence in the industry, using case studies from Ernst & Young (EY), as well as some of Ng’s own research. Automation will allow accountants to more efficiently review and analyze data.
“Employers tell us students that have technical skills are more marketable,” says Ng. “They come in able to make contributions right away.”
Recent MAcc graduate Monique Mohammed, BBA ‘18, MAcc ‘19, now an assurance assistant at EY, agrees. She has quickly distinguished herself with her skills and has used automation, data analytics and data visualization for many of her clients in her first six months at EY.
“I think managers and partners are relying on the new class of assurance staff to take charge and lead digital audit practices as clients want more and expect more from auditors,” she says. “In my opinion, it is more important than ever that students gain exposure and develop skills in as many data-related topics as possible because firms need new professionals who can hit the ground running.”