Artificial Intelligence & the Accounting Industry: Improve Accuracy and Information Processing

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already being put to use in quantum computing, highway driving, and hospitality customer interactions—and it will be coming soon to an accounting firm near you. Get ready for AI to radically change white collar jobs—including those held by accountants, auditors, and controllers.

Accounts payable expert Mary S. Schaeffer puts AI in context for accounting professionals in a live webinar for Eli Financial, “How to Prepare for a Robot-Automated and AI-Enhanced Future in Accounting.” She explains how AI and robotic process automation can be used in your organization—and what the advent of this new technology means for the skill set you’ll need for the future.

Why Even Small Firms Should Adopt High Tech

AI is not just robots. You likely use AI to some extent every day and don’t even know it, Forbes reported. Siri, Gmail, Amazon, Google, and Netflix all use types of AI to help you shop, find directions, choose a movie, and get traffic reports before you head out the door.

These companies use machine learning technology to analyze input and “learn” preferences to make accurate decisions. Some applications, such as Google Translate, perform statistical analyses from millions of sources of information and can continuously update their systems.

AI is already in the accounting industry, too. The Big Four firms—Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG—all use AI systems, reports the Journal of Accountancy. And now it’s time for even small firms to get in the game.

“All firms, even small ones, should be thinking about how to adopt advanced technology like artificial intelligence, whether it will be by contracting with specialized technology companies or building their own departments,” the journal stated in the article “How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Accounting.”

What for? In accounting, AI is digesting and analyzing huge volumes of data and doing at speeds well beyond what even a well-experienced team could.

Use AI to Focus on What Is Important

AI is being harnessed to handle mundane jobs, improve accuracy, and analyze information quickly, noted the Financial Times, both for accounting and auditing.

“Better technology can improve the quality of audit work by carrying out tasks faster, and potentially more accurately, than a human ever could,” the paper reported. “It can also assess huge volumes of data and generate new types of insights.”

AI can also be used in predictive analytics, to generate faster and friendlier responses, and to provide cross-servicing, CPA Practice Advisor said.

Benefits: “Continued automation of data inputs—from gathering audit evidence to inputting employee expense reports—will provide advisors with better capabilities to help clients analyze data and predict problems before they affect cash flow or compliance,” CPA Practice Advisor reported.

Accountants can use AI even on very small scales, noted accounting software firm Intuit QuickBooks, with applications including email writing, scheduling, and customer support.

“AI has the potential to take over process-driven accounting roles such as bookkeeping and data entry, but, it also creates the need for workers to design AI systems and analyse the data they generate,” the company said. “AI can make life easier for accounting firms by simplifying tasks for a more streamlined approach to office efficiency.”

For now, said global management consultants McKinsey, the net effect of AI in fields like accounting will be to refine many jobs rather than replace them. And that, notes Schaeffer, means your competitors could already be gaining ground on your business.

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