Change / transformation | Personal development | Technology

MACPA, BLI partner with IBM to help accounting and finance pros learn key future-focused skills

In far too many instances, “future-ready CPA” is an oxymoron.

Not for long, though — not with IBM, the Maryland Association of CPAs, and the Business Learning Institute on the case.

IBM is joining forces with the MACPA and the BLI to modernize the accounting profession and provide accounting and finance professionals with future-focused skills in artificial intelligence, Big Data, and cognitive computing.

As part of the partnership, IBM will provide an advanced cognitive and data skills platform that will help accounting and finance professionals learn the key data science, business analytics, and A.I. skills they need to become future-ready and play a bigger role in guiding digital transformation within their organizations. The partnership will transform how accountants work, but also how they learn — from in-person classes in traditional disciplines to hands-on cognitive learning that will provide skills to extract insight from a growing sea of data.

Interactive cognitive courses for accounting and finance pros will be delivered through IBM’s Big Data University via the Business Learning Institute, the MACPA’s learning and innovation subsidiary. Classes will feature training in machine learning, deep learning, and A.I. to help accounting and finance pros apply insights derived from cognitive computing to solve complex financial problems with improved, learned productivity.

“We’ve seen what IBM can do with automating data-driven businesses, and we are excited to advance our century-old mission of equipping members with the most advanced skills needed to be competitive in tomorrow’s job market,” said Tom Hood, CEO of the MACPA and the Business Learning Institute. “We look forward to adding the IBM curriculum to our existing portfolio of future-ready skills.”

Helping CPAs become future-ready is a growing priority for the MACPA and the BLI. The foundation of that effort includes the innovative programming offered by the BLI’s thought leaders and the organizations’ work with renowned futurist and best-selling author Daniel Burrus in co-creating The Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition™. The groundbreaking learning system is designed to help accounting and finance professionals jump-start their ability to anticipate future trends and take advantage of the opportunities those trends offer.

That key competency — anticipation — is so important, in fact, that Burrus calls it the greatest missing competency in business today.

IBM clearly operates with the same mindset and works in the same future-focused space. Offering accounting and finance professionals access to IBM’s best thinking about technologies like artificial intelligence, Big Data, and cognitive computing will go a long way toward helping the profession become future-ready.

Here’s how IBM put it in a blog post announcing the partnership:

An important part of creating a future for accountants and finance professionals is providing them the opportunity to gain the necessary growth skills to avoid disruption.

Accountants today focus on analyzing contracts to ensure business, such as tax compliance and mergers, runs effectively. However, by applying the power of cognitive technologies to these data-driven activities, accounting professionals free themselves up to redeploy talent to higher value, more strategic business activities.

“Data science and A.I. are transforming every industry, providing business professionals with deeper and more actionable insights, leading to better business decisions,” said Willie Tejada, IBM’s chief developer advocate. “IBM is committed to providing students, professionals, and developers with the skills they need to leverage these new technologies.”

The new learning platform will be available as early as late June on the Business Learning Institute website.

For more information about IBM, visit


William D. Sheridan