We are now in the fourth industrial revolution, according to Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute. Industry 1.0 began in 1784 with mechanization and the steam powered loom; Industry 2.0 with the introduction of the assembly line in 1870; Industry 3.0 in 1969 with the introduction of automation and computers; and Industry 4.0 is going on today with cyber systems, the Internet and networks. “Are CPAs going to need new skills?” Mr. Hood said, “Yes, but more than data and technology skills.”

Mr. Hood explained that while machines can go deep into the production of data, they cannot go wide, connecting dots across silos. “We have to move up the value chain – and machines will not be able to do that.” More important than the technology side, the number one skill area is “empathy, trust and relationships.” It is necessary for the profession to transform, but it is also critical for the profession to keep the public’s trust, he advised.

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