Accountants have always incorporated technology into their practice, but the advancement of computing power in recent years has introduced new tools to the profession. Predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics processing, automation and blockchain are just some of the emerging technologies that will transform the industry. To best prepare the next generation of accountants, Fox Accounting is fostering a digital mindset in students and integrating these new toolkits into the classroom.
Cory Ng, associate professor of instruction and director of the undergraduate accounting program, researches artificial intelligence in accounting and co-authored the book “Artificial Intelligence in Accounting: Practical Applications.” Ng is one of many faculty members bridging the gap between the business and technology curriculum for Fox School students.
“Businesses today can leverage technology to gain valuable insights for better decision making. (They can) automate processes to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” says Ng. “It’s imperative that accountants adapt by learning how to use these technologies to assist their clients and their organizations.”
To bring new technologies into the classroom, Ng and Yi Liang, with support from Accounting Department Chair Betsy Gordon, received grant funding from a program called INQuiries sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational professional services network known as one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. According to PwC, “Since INQuires was created in 2007, we have awarded through our INQuires program over $6.9 million in funding to over 200 schools for faculty research, diversity initiatives and curriculum development.”
The grant funds the expansion of undergraduate offerings in the accounting department to more closely align with skills expected in the accounting profession today. The Accounting and Information Systems course will soon incorporate software such as Alteryx that is used in the field for producing insightful data analytics, offering students in the business school more opportunities to engage and collaborate with technology students.
“We’re working with people across departments and across schools to further provide technology skills to our students,” says Ng. “I worked closely with my department chair (Betsy Gordon) to create a data analytics concentration for accounting majors.”
The concentration in data analytics is available for undergraduate students and can be earned by completing the courses Introduction to Programming in Python, Management and Information Systems and Ng’s Accounting Analytics Senior Seminar.
“The more we incorporate technology into our curriculum, combined with developing their critical thinking skills in a data analytics mindset, the more prepared our students will be,” says Ng. “These emerging technologies will find a way into our curriculum moving forward.”