Are accountants being replaced by IT professionals?


Fifteen years ago the professionals who worked across an entire organisation were the accountants. My best man trained as an accountant, and I thought his university course was excellent – it taught all aspects of business, so that he would understand each function of an organisation from manufacturing to HR to marketing to IT to sales.

In the last five years, it’s now the IT professionals who work across the organisation. IT are invited into all aspects of the organisation. A new manufacturing plant needs to be kitted out with technology. The HR department want a new HR system. Sales need a new CRM system. A new marketing campaign will probably involve a website, and even if IT doesn’t produce the website, IT will still have a decision role in the choice of Content Management System or agency. IT will probably have a role in recommending specific social media.

IT have become very good at understanding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of doing something within an organisation.

Producing a Facebook Page doesn’t cost anything. Someone in IT is going to ask who will look after it, who will answer the comments, who will keep the content fresh, what will the complaints process be. Suddenly the Facebook Page isn’t free, it requires a couple of people to spend a couple of hours a day on Facebook.

This is because IT has become more mature in project management and understanding that Total Cost of Ownership. Ten years ago, IT got burnt buying software and then realising training cost more. And more powerful servers were required. And maintenance cost a lot more. So IT departments realised that to do something required calculating the Total Cost of Ownership.

Universities need to catch up quickly – they need to train IT professionals about the rest of the organisation and to learn to speak their language. Accountants have historically been good at this communication, and IT have been awful. IT love buzzwords and jargon. The rest of the organisation dislikes it. IT love to deep dive into detail. The rest of the organisation is bored by it.

I’d like to thank Ilan for inspiring this post a few weeks ago, and for a gentleman at Internet World yesterday for reviving the thoughts.

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