IMA Moments

Turning the Risks of Automation into Opportunities

By Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE
February 15, 2017

Automation has been an increasing concern for organizations over the past decade. In a recent survey, organizations rated the rapid speed of disruptive innovations and new technologies among their top risks for 2017. And each organization’s management of the risks associated with automation determines how it will create opportunities for better serving its members, improving employee morale, and increasing productivity.





IMA’s technology journey has been ongoing since I became President and CEO in 2008. Innovation and technology enablement are critical to IMA’s sustainable growth strategy, which starts with delivering relevant and differentiated value to our members. We strive to be more innovative in the marketplace, especially in the areas of information technology and customer service. So much so, that we incorporated this mind-set into IMA’s Core Values that each employee lives by.


I selected three of the five IMA Core Values to highlight how the risks of automation can be turned into opportunities for growth and success.




In 2009, IMA implemented a new system called Personify, a database of member information that helped streamline internal processes and improve productivity. In turn, this system improved the service we deliver to our members, and we’re able to provide better customer service to more members in a shorter time frame.


This technology enhancement—a form of automation—resulted in the job elimination of one of our employees because “the machines took over.” But with passion, retraining, and creativity, this employee is now working in another high-value business area where she leveraged her customer service skills to become a high-performing relationship manager with students and partners.




Continuously updating and improving how IMA members communicate with employees—through our new, optimized website, “old” technology such as email, and “new” technology such as video conferences—is crucial for being opportunistic in our technology-driven profession.


To embrace technology and innovation, IMA created an Inspired Technology Lab about two years ago to break down departmental silos and focus relentlessly on the member experience. The lab created the need for additional employees in our Brand, Marketing, and IT departments. Since its inception, the team working in the lab has implemented an exciting new website with personalization, streamlined and intuitive navigation, lead capture capability, and more.




“Teaming to achieve” means we work together toward a common goal of streamlining processes to better serve the member and work toward IMA’s mission of providing a forum for research, practice development, education, knowledge sharing, and advocacy of the highest ethical and best business practices in management accounting and finance.


In our Inspired Technology Lab, our cross-functional team doesn’t rest on its laurels. They’re aggressively implementing phase II enhancements, which include better functionality for chapters and councils to serve local members. By sourcing and hiring people with advanced technology and analytics skill sets, we hope to better serve our members and continue on our path of sustainable growth.




Technology connects our worldwide membership as a community of those wishing to network, learn, and grow together. Automation shouldn’t be feared by organizations but rather should be embraced by innovative and futuristic organizations and their employees. Productivity, greater value, and new but different types of exciting jobs could result.


Related articles:

The Changing Nature of AccountingStrategic Finance

The Power of Finance AutomationStrategic Finance

Risk Management: It’s What We Do!Strategic Finance


Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE, is IMA president and CEO. He also is a member of IMA’s Bergen-Rockland-Meadowlands Chapter. You can reach Jeff at or follow him on Twitter: @IMA_JeffThomson.
1 + Show Comments

1 comment.
    candido m. perez February 20, 2017 AT 6:57 pm

    For every new opportunity that we see comes added risk. It is the will to overcome the risk and bring satisfaction for the fruit of pursuing the opportunity