8th June, 2018
Gain insight into how emerging technologies are like to shape the future of society, as well as the future of accounting and bookkeeping, in this year’s Radar Report.
Flying cars? Killer robots? Soylent green? There are very few long-term visions for the future of human society that have made it off the page or screen and into reality.
But numerous short-term predictions are made all the time, looking anywhere from minutes ahead, to a decade or two.
And the accuracy of such crystal ball gazing regularly determines the success of individuals, organisations and entire industries.
And this was the task given to Futurist Steve Sammartino in producing MYOB’s 2018 Radar Report: to analyse a broad set of trends and their likely impact on society over the next 10 years.
Sammartino was also asked to go one further – to predict how these shifts would create opportunities for, or disrupt the livelihoods of, accountants and bookkeepers.
For someone who has developed a reputation for analysing trends and extrapolating their effects through time, Sammartino told The Pulse that the challenge in creating the new Radar Report lay in switching focus from macro to micro.
“This is the first Radar Report I’ve helped to produce for MYOB and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Sammartino. “As I went through the process, I realised there’s a real challenge for business owners in changing their default thinking from ‘how does this relate to myself and my industry?’.
“Historically, this way of thinking was acceptable because industry sectors fell into somewhat separate verticals. But now we live in a much more horizontal economy – an economy where everyone has access to the same tools.”
As much as the Radar Report peers into the future, it’s often the things we don’t see coming that catch us off-guard.
“The music industry example is the ultimate case study because they had a product they owned and controlled as well as the finest business systems you could ask for,” said Sammartino.
“They were disrupted because someone outside of their industry created a new business model for the acquisition of music.
“The big producers and music labels couldn’t even understand why their volumes were dropping at first, because they had no insight into how many MP3s were being traded online.”
In this sense, the Radar Report may offer some hint of how the future will take shape, but there’s always the potential for unknown quantities to cause a significant deviation from what’s predicted.
Covering nine broad trends, the 2018 Radar Report appraises the future economy for accountants and bookkeepers.
It’s supported by an additional six articles authored by Future Sandwich Creative Director Tommy McCubbin, which focus on augmented computing, transport and location, algorithms, workforce, trust and safety, as well as experimentation and learning.
The report is already available along with the first supporting article on augmented computing, while the remaining topics are scheduled to be released monthly.
“No matter which one of these elements you look at, there’s always a surprising twist in the way the technology plays out,” Sammartino said. “For example, consider the age-old fear the technology would eventually replace the need for humans entirely.
“Now we see the tide of consumer interest pushing back against dehumanisation. People are saying, ‘No, my data isn’t free’, ‘you don’t own my privacy’ and ‘I expect a human interaction’.
“The truth is that people buy into human connection and experience. No matter how accurate a robot is, we still much prefer a human to hold out hand through any given process.”
For example, as software increases our capacity to capture and analyse data, it also creates more opportunities to provide and act on the insights generated.
“This switch back to humans doing more human work is kind of unexpected, but we’re starting to see it at all levels. People are putting their phones face down on the table in social situations as a kind of modern protocol,” said Sammartino.
“The true ‘killer app’ in society isn’t software or hardware – it’s wetware.”