SA's adoption of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies is low, with only 13% of companies currently using artificial intelligence. File Picture: Andreas Gebert/ Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's adoption of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies is low, with only 13 percent of companies  currently using artificial intelligence, an ongoing conference of accountants has heard.

The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) is this week holding a conference in Cape Town focusing on 4IR and its impact on the accounting profession.


In a statement on Wednesday, the institute quoted World Wide Worx chief executive Arthur Goldstruck as telling delegates that 4IR technologies would kill the accounting profession "only if accountants remain the same and refuse to embrace it".

Goldstruck cited research carried out by World Wide Worx which showed that, of those companies currently not using artificial intelligence, just 21 percent planned to adopt the technology in the next 12 to 24 months. Many cited cost as the main constraint for not doing so.

"The software itself is cheap and readily available as online services," he said. "Rather, it is the skills and expertise required to make it work that are lacking, with that scarcity driving expenses up."

In other 4IR technologies, 50 percent of companies currently use basic automation, 25 percent use Internet of Things and 19 percent use Cloud computing, the research shows.


Some 90 percent of firms surveyed believed they would become reliant on those technologies in the future, with 99 percent anticipating that using them would result in a measurable increase in efficiency.

World Wide Worx found that poor connectivity was one of the top obstacles companies faced in moving their business online.

Fifty-five percent of firms still used a desktop accounting package while 22 percent had migrated to Cloud-based accounting software.

Conversely, robotic process automation, a technology that allows repetitive data entry tasks to be automated through programmable software robots, has become increasingly cheaper and readily available.

- African News Agency (ANA)