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Did you know the healthcare operating model has essentially stayed the same for 100 years? If you think about it, any system that is 100 years old has obviously been updated since, and it’s high time we work to bring the healthcare system up to speed, too. The healthcare industry may move at a slower pace than other segments in terms of modernizing processes, but it is certainly working to adapt digital technology. It’s a great move, as technologies are fundamentally revamping and fine tuning practices for drug discovery and development and clinical trials to provide higher quality and more precise outcomes. Modernization: Is it really necessary? To better understand the trend of innovative technologies being weaved into drug discovery and development and clinical research, it’s important to know the reasons driving the change. The biggest change drivers come from patient ownership and engagement and competitive market forces. Informed consumers who are ready to take ownership of their own health and better manage it is exciting for the industry to see. We’re no longer viewing trial participants as “subjects.” We’re not treating patients; we’re thinking about overall human wellness. Consumers are partners in the research and development process and are able to provide real-world feedback that is collected and utilized as data to eventually provide better solutions. For example, as popular as mobile apps are for shopping, gaming, and more, mobile health apps are game changers for the way people view their health and how they communicate with their doctors. In clinical trials and real-world studies, patients are taking an active role in data collection by providing feedback through technologies such as apps or through wearable monitoring devices. This level of proactive response is like never before, and it is critical to not let it go to waste. Additionally, technology companies are jumping into the healthcare space and creating some major competition. The likes of Apple, Amazon, and Google are working to drive healthcare technology innovation. And, as with any other space, the competition is pleasantly forcing traditional life sciences companies to catch up and ride the digital wave. And, lastly, it doesn’t hurt that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is starting to proactively support digital innovation in the healthcare eco-system. On that note, to better keep up with increasingly stringent regulatory standards in this space, technology is helping to streamline processes and help eliminate logistical barriers that have plagued clinical research for decades. Notable technology innovations bettering human health and wellness We could go on and on about how exciting it is to see the varying technological developments that are truly impacting healthcare, but we’ll focus on the most noteworthy: Cloud technologies Not being confined to hard devices, this innovation allows the industry to scale and process large sums of data to later be used for genome sequencing or for enhancing trial design and operations based on collected and analyzed past trial data. And, through cloud-based platforms, study teams can access data, monitor patients, etc., through connected devices and laptops from virtually anywhere in the world in real time. This opens up the door to risk-based monitoring to better ensure patient safety while also reducing costs along the way. Big data and machine learning   By giving the industry high performance and in-memory computing capabilities, companies can store all sorts of data about patients, drug adverse events, images, genomic data, and much more and run advanced analytics to understand hidden patterns that can go undetected otherwise. This level of analytics is a like crystal ball into the future – allowing experts to identify potential future adverse effects and better understand patient profiles to define trial criteria and design. And, it helps make trials run safer and faster. On the largest scope, all this targeted information can offer precision medicine solutions to eventually develop targeted therapies. Blockchain One of the biggest bottlenecks in innovation in recent years is the lack of data sharing and collaboration, especially among other companies and among payers and health systems. With blockchain capabilities, data can be accessed and shared between different groups (e.g., caregivers, physicians, researchers, and clinical research organizations (CROs), etc.). It also enhances clinical research design and execution. Researchers can now request patients to donate medical data for research purposes, which again can be shared via smart contracts among various life sciences companies, CROs, health systems, and more. Mobile health tools As we’ve discussed, these tools are changing the game in terms of patient communications, data collection, and patient monitoring activities. Everything from mobile health apps to sensors and wearables are helping to make virtual trials and studies a reality. Patients can fully participate in clinical research from their homes without logistical and geographic barriers that affect patient recruitment and retention in traditional trial models. Also, with the availability of popular smart home assistants like Alexa by Amazon and Google Home in numerous homes, the industry can learn more about wellness awareness, adverse event reporting, treatment adherence, and disease management for individuals. These devices are also helpful in trials and studies to remind participants of site appointments and home activities in virtual trials as well as for sharing visit feedback and supporting post-visit questions and next steps. In the future, these devices could potentially play a significant role in at-home care and monitoring for the growing senior population. As patients become empowered through their active roles, the level of engagement helps improve data quality as well. When you put all this together, you can see why it is an exciting and revolutionary time in the history of healthcare. We’re certainly changing the landscape for how things are done in terms of processing, but most importantly, these technological advancements are making a profound positive impact to improve and advance human health. Article written by Manoj Vig Image credit by Getty Images, E+, Nastasic Want more? For Job Seekers | For Employers | For Influencers
Organizations are slow at adopting progressive methods. This is true for CFOs, CPAs and accountants. The accounting profession needs to prepare for change and threats to competitive advantage because there is an accelerating and disruptive digital technologies transformation in progress called the “digital revolution”. We are witnessing significant changes in the nature of technologies available for today’s managers and employee teams with regard to infrastructure, availability and capacity. These elements have accumulated in four key technologies often referred as SMAC – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. Venture capital investors have recently shifted towards big data and artificial intelligence that combine these technologies. These investments are accelerating the impact of this revolution. Examples of digitization disrupting traditional industries such as Uber for car passenger transportation are just the tip of the iceberg. While the term artificial intelligence (AI) originated in the 1950s, the world turned its back to the promises of AI. For decades, research in this space continued by a handful of researchers in Canada. Their continuing research has recently contributed to the rebirth of interest in artificial intelligence. It’s no surprise that some of the relevant startups for professional services firms emerged out of Canada. As examples: Ross Intelligence can streamline the manual search that junior attorneys in law firms labor at to research past cases. MindBridge AI is capturing and augmenting assurance associates’ knowledge into an AI, enhancing professional judgment and simplifying work around data and analytics. Both examples will create new capacities or remove obsolete job titles and will redefine workflows in these professions. Embracing “digital transformation” is the recourse for protection and preservation. This doesn’t mean that accountants should seek to become data scientists or build mobile apps. They need the competence to choose the technologies fitting them and be demanding and aggressive in adopting them. In some areas, low cognitive tasks, such as the manual and tedious tasks performed by accountants, can be augmented and monitored, down to key strokes, by an AI engine. The AI will never take a vacation or get tired. It can operate 24/7. 5 accounting functions that will be impacted As automation displaces a traditional accountant’s work, it is important for those affected to have a positive and an optimistic attitude and consider the newly-created upside potential for them to perform fulfilling work and higher cognitive tasks. Despite science fiction movies that present an apocalyptic view of robots, the future should not be feared. This is because robotic software can, for now, only handle low-cognitive tasks and does not have a sense of self-preservation like humans. Regardless, we need to clearly identify where they will impact work the most. Here are five accounting functions that we believe will be highly impacted: 1. Transactional accounting processes Clerical accountants are the most vulnerable to digitalization and automation because their roles involve routine tasks like bookkeeping and data entry. Primary examples are customer order processing, invoicing, credit, accounts receivable, payment collection, vendor purchase order processing and accounts payable, payroll processing, and travel and expense processing. 2. Fiscal period-end accounting closes The risk of digitalization for accountants is due to the increasing application of affordable commercial software that automates the workflow processes of the monthly, quarterly and fiscal year-end accounting close. Software can quickly access source data and apply tax calculation rules. Small businesses, similar to individual households, can now use commercial tax preparation software instead of hiring tax professionals from a third-party service. 3. Auditing The purpose of an audit is to obtain reasonable assurance about whether financial statements are free of material misstatements and irregularities due to error or fraud. Digitalization improves the quality of an audit in many different ways. For example, using an AI-expert system capable of scanning through 100% of the data and applying advanced analytics and anomaly detection in the audit can lead to better-informed risk assessments. It leads to a far more focused and relevant (higher quality based on risk) sample which increases the speed of engagements and decreases liability. 4. Business process outsourcing (BPO) of accounting tasks The general term for third parties who perform outsourced accounting tasks is business process outsourcing (BPO). The BPO business model is typically based on fee-for-service pricing. With centralization and economies of scale from having multiple customers, a BPO provider can often perform both front and back office accounting tasks more efficiently. 5. Regulatory filings Automation and technology have already begun to revolutionize regulatory compliance reporting. The implications are that rather than accountants requiring only mathematical acumen, mastery of tax laws or bookkeeping proficiency, accountants can devote more time with increased skill to interpreting and analyzing financial information. For example, they can use XBRL, a format that can now digitally transmit its financial statement filings to government regulatory agencies. Mitigating risk due to digitalization within accounting Automation is bound to impact accounting tasks and jobs. In some tasks where complexity is substantial and the volume, variety and velocity of data are all high, computer software may outthink a human analyst. Automation is also capable of applying what was learned from previously solved problems to new problems. For example, automated analysis to evaluate the financial return from varying capital investments, such as for different assets such as machines, can be used to evaluate acquiring different types of new customers. Accountants need to face the reality that low-cognitive tasks will soon be performed by a combination of brute computer processing power, big data and algorithms. The most severe risk an accountant faces due to digitalization and automation is the elimination of their job. Other risks are downward pressure on salaries for some accounting positions, with potential increases in workload and work hours. Different people have different reactions to change. Some people may deny the change, while others may embrace it. There are several ways that accountants can mitigate the impact on themselves: • Increasing skills with education and training As automation increases examining the output of automation, including reports and analysis, will be emphasized. As this emphasis changes, accountants can convert their feared risks into opportunities. They can do this by acquiring new skills and capabilities such as with planning, strategizing and analysis which contribute higher value to the organization than simply reporting data. This can be accomplished via education and training. For example, The Institute of Management Accountants reports that members who pass its Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam earn on average a 35% higher salary relative to comparable accountants without the CMA degree. • Augmenting digital automation In certain cases, accountants will find that robotic and analytic software does not fully replace a job function. Instead, it will automate the repetitive tasks of a workflow process, and the accountant can then augment the automation with value-adding work. For example, as automation reduces errors and generates information more quickly, the accountant can shift from producing reports to investigating discrepancies. In effect, the accountant becomes the machine’s supervisor. As automation occurs many jobs will be redefined rather than eliminated. • New business models from digital disruption Entrepreneurial accountants will recognize the opportunities that digitalization, automation and AI can bring for expanding existing business models such as business process outsourcing and tax processing services. Additional opportunities are to pursue new business models, such as financial software implementation services, including providing the analysis generated from the information produced from the software. As one begins to more fully understand the impact of software automation and the speed at which it will affect accounting jobs, accountants have two broad choices on how to react. The first is fearfully, wondering if they chose the wrong profession and should pursue a different career. The second is to seize the opportunity for change and embrace the positive and imminent impacts from automation. This includes preparing themselves for less tedious and more fulfilling work that will bring increasing value to their organizations and their clients – as well as themselves. The choice will be their own. No one has a crystal ball, but our bet is they will make the latter choice. Article co-written by Gary Cokins and Solon Angel Image credit by Getty Images, Photographer's Choice, Biddiboo Want more? For Job Seekers | For Employers | For Influencers
IBM Watson  is partnering with tennis players and coaches to enhance their game strategy and better prepare for matches. As a partner of the US Open tournament for more than 25 years, IBM and the USTA will integrate its AI Highlights technology into player performance as the tournament enters the next phase of its technology journey. For the past year, IBM has been working with the USTA Player Development's performance team to develop a technology solution that will help coaches and players analyze and improve their performance. The new player development solution uses AI Highlights, enabling them to create real-time content to engage their fans. It also reviews hours of match footage and automatically identifies and indexes key points and stats, allowing coaches to design reports for subsequent matches. This enables coaches to reference and review a comprehensive database of players' indexed match video that they otherwise would not have been able to access. "Coaches and tennis players look to video as a useful resource that helps to evaluate players and develop scouting reports before and during tournaments. Working with IBM enables us to process and index video using AI to free up valuable intellectual capital that we can re-allocate to more interpretive and customized analysis," said Martin Blackman, General Manager, USTA Player Development. "Analyzing footage of previous matches is normally very time-intensive, involving many hours of manual 'match-tagging.' Video tagging that used to take hours can now take Watson minutes to execute." Two new AI Highlights solutions will be available for the USTA Digital Team: An AI Highlight dashboard that will populate in near real-time every shot of a match and its excitement level. The US Open Digital Team will be able to view and find the most exciting shot of the day or the match and leverage this content across all their digital channels, including social media. An AI Highlight builder will allow the US Open Digital Team to generate a highlight video for any match played on one of the seven show courts. The system will generate a list of proposed points to be included in the highlights package. Once shots are selected from the list, the system generates the highlights package for the USTA Digital Team to publish. New features to evolve the real-time fan experience: On Facebook Messenger and all US Open digital platforms, Virtual Concierge gives fans access to an AI-powered chatbot. Enabled by Watson services, the chatbot answers questions about scoring, schedules, transportation, and dining options. Depending on the question, the Virtual Concierge may also direct users to their points of interest within an interactive map of the venue, which will also indicate an attendee's current location. The SlamTracker experience now includes a "momentum" feature, so at a glance, fans can see who has advantage as well as the shifts in momentum over the course of all live matches. SlamTracker also provides scores, stats and insights for all matches in progress, giving US Open fans a level of analysis and engagement. "The US Open offers an enormous amount of tennis across multiple courts over the two weeks of the tournament. We're proud to be able offer multiple fan experiences both on-site at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center, and on the official US Open digital platforms that serve millions of fans around the world," said Noah Syken, VP of Sports & Entertainment Partnerships, IBM. "AI technology will help fans follow matches and navigate their time on the US Open grounds. While we're seeing this type of technology come to life through tennis, these AI-powered solutions also are impacting many other industries," said Syken. Article published by Anna Hill Image credit by IBM Want more? For Job Seekers | For Employers | For Influencer
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