Academic journal article Accounting Horizons

Blending Information and Communication Technology with Accounting Research. (Commentary)

Academic journal article Accounting Horizons

Blending Information and Communication Technology with Accounting Research. (Commentary)

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this commentary is to explore how information and communication technologies (ICT) have forever changed many aspects of business and accounting practice and, as a result, offer new and exciting research opportunities to accounting professionals and academics. In today's computerized, interconnected, global business environment, the accounting profession must deal with a host of complex issues that never existed in the past--for instance, how to capture and record new business transactions and events, develop value-added business and information processes, create new value-chain and supply-chain opportunities, disseminate useful knowledge to a wide array of information consumers, and provide assurance services across the entire spectrum of economic activities reflect some of the more compelling topics of interest. Accounting researchers can add value to the profession by investigating these issues, among others, and presenting scientific results in a clear and understandable fashion to practicin g accountants.

An important message of this commentary is that researchers in accounting information systems (AIS) and other areas of accounting, such as financial, auditing, tax, and managerial, should work together on projects, as each party can learn a great deal from the other. Synergistic relationships arising from such teamwork hold great potential to yield high-quality research results that can have notable impact on the accounting profession.

THE NEW BUSINESS AND ACCOUNTING LANDSCAPE

Over the past centuries, business practices and accounting procedures developed and matured a great deal, yet at a relatively predictable, slow, and controlled rate. We stand squarely, proudly, and respectfully on the broad shoulders of those who came before us, as their guidance, wisdom, and insight masterfully steered us to this place and time in the profession. However, in the apparent twinkling of an eye, ICT has disrupted our peaceful existence by radically transforming the manner in which business is conducted across the world and alerting us to the many challenges that lay ahead.

How Technology Affects Business Practice

There is little doubt that ICT has contributed immensely to the magnitude, speed, and acceleration of change in business practice over the past three decades. Rapid changes in the business world place immense pressure on business executives to stay ahead of the competition by leveraging JOT to dramatically and continually redesign business processes and models.

Using ICT to Create a Digitally Integrated Entity

Figure 1 depicts an JOT infrastructure that envelopes and permeates the inputprocess-output value chain of a business entity. Encapsulated by this JOT infrastructure, digitally integrated business entities capture economic events as they unfold, process information with instantaneous speed and ubiquitous availability, and disseminate valuable decision-making information and knowledge throughout the organization. The blending of JOT and business process integration manifests itself in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which serve as the foundation for linking multiple, related business entities into integrated supply chains.

Using ICT to Integrate the Conventional Supply Chain

When related entities link their internally integrated information systems to one another, the value of the interconnected network potentially becomes greater than the sum of the participating firms' isolated systems. The supply chain illustrated in Figure 2 depicts how a digitally integrated business environment might look, assuming that conventional relationships among upstream and downstream partners remain intact. Suppliers can monitor upcoming production schedules of manufacturers to ensure that the proper amount and mix of raw materials arrive on time where needed. Upon receipt of raw materials, the manufacturer could send electronic payment to the suppliers. …

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