Thursday, November 12, 2020

Update on The ICAEW Investment in Engine B

In October I noted that the ICAEW had invested in Engine B, and that Michael Izza is on the Board.

AccountingWeb have now run with the story:

"The ICAEW’s recent additional investment into tech start-up Engine B was perhaps largely unnoticed by many members. Taking a 10% stake and Michael Izza joining the board seems an unusual step for an institute to take. 

Aside from the potential conflict of interest, historically, accounting institutes and major tech initiatives have largely been a failure. How will this investment stack up?

Getting to grips with Engine B and what it aims to do isn’t easy. The website is quite opaque and subsequent press releases unhelpful, especially as it describes itself as an “intelligent data access platform” using “dynamic knowledge graphs”.

Put more simply, Engine B seems to be two things:

  • A set of rules (or data models) that help to standardise structured data (like financial accounts) and unstructured data (such as PDFs). 
  • A technology platform, that allows this data to be interrogated and for other software to be linked to it...
While at some point there could be a commercial conflict with other software providers, Lyford-Smith is keen to stress that their interest is at the ‘foundational layer’. He stresses there is no conflict with the audit itself as “this isn’t the standards of the audit, we regulate the professional behaviour, in the same way we don’t regulate Excel formula creation.” 

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