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Why Bots Are Only the Beginning for AI in Accounting

Jun 9th 2017
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Accounting professionals are now fully adapted to absorbing brand-new technology in every aspect of their lives, and artificial intelligence (or machine learning) will be no exception.

With the advent of chat bots and automated data-entry tools, using AI for accessing data is becoming more and more common between accountants, and its adoption will soon be mainstream. But the big question that accounting professionals are probably asking themselves is: “What about the next game-changer AI innovations? And how will they impact me?”

There are many benefits that AI will bring to accountants. Bill Gates thinks that these AI robots will be good for society; he even suggests governments should tax them like regular taxpayers.

The outcome of these benefits is already known: time-saving, accuracy improvement, productivity increases, reduced payroll costs, and overall affordability. Security is also not an issue because accountants will always have the final word on approving everything the AI does. The key now is not to simply know the ultimate benefits that this technology will deliver, but how it’ll deliver them.

By taking a closer look at where the accounting tech industry is going, it’s possible to connect the dots and draw a map on what’s to come for those fighting the battles in the front – the accounting professionals. There will be many procedural changes brought by AI to the way this segment operates. 

One of the biggest changes will be in the area of compliance, which will be mostly affected in the way that data is processed. This means that accountants will be able to have streamlined reporting doing all the heavy tax data lifting for them.

Another huge impact will be over the data categorization. Machine learning-powered bots will single-handedly sort all information into each specific category available.

These bots can learn from the initial decisions made by the accountants and then determine the future by themselves. Plus, they will also be able to make decisions on their own, which means they won’t even need any initial feedback from accountants in most cases. That’s a major step.

Still, AI will even bring changes to the way both small and big accounting practices are organized. Administrative positions will disappear because firms will go completely paper-free and there will be a bot for every operational task to be performed. In the same way, administrative tasks once done by accountants themselves will also fade away, being replaced by all-in-one automation software.

But perhaps the biggest change that AI will bring will be upon the accounting professional mindset. It’s possible that technology-savvy accountants will soon become the standard. And not tech-savvy as in “Yes, I create great Excel spreadsheets” but as in “Yes, I can operate your entire business accounting through bots.” That’s just too big of a change to pass unnoticed.

This might even bring implications in the way that business owners see accounting professionals. They might start seeing them as the ones who have the power (knowledge) to drastically organize their companies’ financial health in a short time-lapse, which would encourage them to increase demand.

AI won’t take over the accountancy world at once. First, there must be a single tool or feature to cause the big rapture on the segment; otherwise, the adoption will be gradual.

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