Talent and tax technology
People with power
Working and thriving in a digital tax world
Fast-changing regulatory requirements, rising organizational pressures, and new digital technologies are rapidly changing what it means to be a tax professional. Tax teams are starting to work in new workforce models, wield digital skill sets, operate much more closely with the business—and augment their experience and expertise with powerful automation technologies. At Deloitte, we call it the Power of With.
Tax teams are changing fast. Here’s why.
Five key technology trends are driving the tax profession’s transformation in Canada and around the world. These same developments are also dramatically changing how tax authorities and other regulators meet their objectives.
- Big data. Tax professionals are no longer being limited by processing power or data volume, or required to rely on estimating and extrapolating from data samples. Tax teams are increasingly able to work with precise, complete data sets, and investigate and classify every transaction quickly and accurately.
- Process automation. Collecting and reworking tax data has long been a laborious, time-consuming task. Tax teams are starting to use data modelling, cognitive computing, and robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline the process, predicting transactions’ appropriate tax treatments and recording them automatically.
- Decision-making support. Machine learning, pattern matching, fuzzy logic, and natural language processing now enable technology to perform complex tax analysis—reducing time and effort, improving quality and accuracy, and enabling tax teams to focus on adding value to their enterprises.
- Democratization of knowledge. Tax rules and regulations around the world are becoming more standard and universal—and written in terms that are easier for a layperson to understand. At the same time, accessing these tax rules and regulations is becoming much more straightforward.
- Open networks. Online work platforms are creating large networks of freelance talent available for on-demand, task-based work. Tax teams can use such platforms to access technology skills, allocate discrete work routines, and connect to new talent pools around the globe.
What this means for tax professionals
When it comes to the future of work in tax, predictions of a robotic takeover are giving way to a more practical reality. Automation, artificial intelligence, and other technologies won’t push tax professionals out of their roles, but they will change how those professionals work and what they do. While some tax department activities—especially those that are rules-based, repetitive, or compliance-related—will be automated, human tax professionals have significant opportunities to capitalize on their unique capabilities and take on new value-adding roles. And transformation is coming fast: In a recent Deloitte survey of Australian tax executives, 85 percent said they believe unprecedented change is coming in the next five years.
New skills will be needed. All tax professionals will need technology skills, but they’ll also continue to rely on the very human qualities that will always be essential in any high-performing business: empathy, creativity, emotional intelligence, and a sense of morality. And tax team members will need to understand how to effectively integrate technological possibilities with their own professional judgment, intuition, communication, and advisory skills.
2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends
“As machines replace humans in doing routine work, jobs are evolving to require new combinations of human skills and capabilities….Technology has not only changed the nature of the skills the job requires but has changed the nature of the work and the job itself.”Learn More
Tax professionals need to take action now to prepare for the digital transformation of tax. It’s time they understand the disruptive technologies coming their way, determine their role in a digital tax department, and take ownership of their own reskilling.
Skills in managing projects, data, and people will become as vital as technical tax knowledge. Sharpened analytical skills and professional judgment will be key to helping tax professionals sense when something’s “off.” It will also be important to be able to understand how to apply technology to daily tasks and communicate effectively with those who don’t “speak tax.”
How to prepare for the future of tax
Six practical steps tax professionals can take now
As a tax professional, what can you do now to take ownership of your digital future? Here are six suggestions:
- Become more tech-savvy. The use of technology within the tax department is becoming the new norm. Tax professionals are teaming with bots and other automated solutions, and working alongside colleagues with very different backgrounds—like data scientists. You don’t need to thoroughly understand the coding of the automation solution or know what data scientists know, but you’ll need to become digitally fluent—understanding enough to know what automated solutions are available and how to properly team with non-tax professionals who have data skill sets.
- Expand your analytical skills to use data better. Companies are now dealing with unprecedented data volume, variety, and velocity. You can make more effective use of this data by understanding its sources, learning new ways to access it through automation and analytics, and working with data scientists to glean valuable insights that lead to better tax and business decisions.
- Tear down that wall. Organizational silos may foster specialized knowledge, but they can also hinder effective data management, analysis, and business insight. High-performing tax departments work across barriers to foster collaboration, communication, knowledge-sharing, and more to help team members learn and grow. So grab your hammer and start knocking down those walls!
- Build problem-solving and business communication skills. Problem-solving skills will only become more vital as you collaborate with other functions throughout the business. You’ll need creativity, an understanding of the broader business, and the ability to tell impactful, visual stories about the insights gleaned from tax data.
- Adopt an advisory mindset. Automating routine tax work will free up you and your colleagues to become better advisors to the business. Get to know key stakeholders and understand how tax can provide value to them. Hone your skills for identifying tax-related opportunities, improving tax risk management, and elevating tax department performance overall.
- Learn constantly. You may not need to learn expert coding skills or how to build mathematical models, but you will need to stay on top of the art of the possible so you can always shine a tax light on new initiatives. Update your certifications. Pursue new ones. Take advantage of employer-providing training. Always be looking for opportunities to develop new skills and areas of knowledge.
It’s time to harness the Power of With
Deloitte member firms around the world are exploring how tax departments can use the Power of With to transform the role of tax professionals and bring new value to their organization. Ready to learn more? Start here.