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Opinion piece by: Russel Morena, SAIGA Chief Executive Officer

Economies of the world are increasingly opting to operate in the digital space.

Thanks to technology and vast knowledge in libraries of the world, markets get tapped into easily. Either from your lap, palm of your hand or from a desktop.

The operations mentioned above are possible whilst sitting at home, in a coffee shop or a car.

Indeed we live in times where the development of self performance of work-related tasks can get done anywhere, where there is access to internet connectivity.

So, increasingly, the room of opportunities was expanding for production deadlines or self-empowerment goals to be met speedily. Such are the advantages of digitalisation that include enhanced agility.

Innovative methods also on the rise, improving efficiency and boosting productivity.

The auditing and accounting professions have been doing their best to move in pace with technology.

There was a realisation of an opportunity for the accounting profession to use digital technologies in processing data far quicker and reliably. Opting to go digital provides the right circumstances to redesign financial procedures and generate added value.

Tapping into modern technology also means going beyond the confines of company data, allowing auditors to collect and analyse broader industry data sets that were previously inaccessible.

Therefore, auditors got enabled to identify informational outliers better. Increased, also, was the ability to generate trading insights and focus on business and financial reporting risk.

Leveraging on and the transition to more effective use of technology means auditors and accountants can perform their duties exceptionally.

It denotes effortless attendance of upskilling courses from anywhere and obtaining data essential to prepare financial statements.

So, it makes sense for digital technology upskilling and development to become much of a critical acquisition for accountants and auditors.

It was encouraging that local auditing and accounting professionals were catching up with global trends during and post COVID-19 restrictions.

Face-to-face audits happened less than before as the forced migration to the new normal of doing things with reduced physical contact became a reality.

It also bodes well for progress, growth and efficiency that auditors in South Africa have increased their investment in technology. Such helps in the fulfilment of their audit obligations and upskilling requirements.

Organisations like ours, The Southern African Institute of Government Auditors, were now able to conduct all necessary training virtually without physical contact.

The positive developments make it possible to keep our programme running costs minimal.

It was something auguring well for the operational sustainability of SAIGA, a non-profit professional body that has been serving the public since its inception in 1988.

In its role of advancing public accountability and auditing, SAIGA pursues a collaborative approach to increase member value.

Thus we are open and look forward to partnerships with ICT companies. Cooperations within the ICT sector will ensure a broader embrace of technological advancements by accountants and auditors. ICT companies are significant, strategic partners for our field of accounting and auditing because we need to be at the top of our game in addressing technological security challenges. Such is crucial to enable accountants and auditors to do their work without fear or favour.

Last year, SAIGA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Association for Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA). The goal is to help with capacity challenges in the public sector.

With this partnership, members get assisted with online learning.  Information is also made available to enable them to access learning programmes online across the country.

Digitalisation improves the quality of audits and its role as a governance mechanism. Thanks to advancements in ICT, auditors can now focus on data analysis rather than on data collection.