Small Business Forum: (Ac)Counting on Disruption: An Accounting Guide to Surviving the Rapidly Changing Business Landscape While Adding Value to Your Firm

Published March 11, 2021 By Barbara A. Wech, Ph.D.; Jennifer D. JHamrick, Ph.D.; Alan Amling, Ph.D

Originally Published in The Cooperative Accountant, Winter 2020 Issue

Covid-19 reportedly started as a limited issue in a Wuhan wet market as early as November 2019. It spread, slowly at first, and then exponentially. By March, the virus had spread around the globe and less than a year from the first outbreak, more than 1 million people had died. If the virus could have been understood and contained in those early months, before the Pandoras Box was fully opened, perhaps the outcome could have been much less severe. Exponential growth like we saw with Covid-19 is not limited to viruses. New connecting and “thinking” technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotic process automation (RPA) are enabling new business models that start off slow and then overtake old business models in a way that appears sudden. Businesses that hope to survive these changes need to get involved in the early stages of the change before Pandora’s Box is opened. Consequently, the accountant’s role must evolve from tactical to strategic to maximize success. If accountants cede this up-front role in the business model change to IT or other functions, their opportunity to influence outcomes is greatly reduced.

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