Bachelor of Science in Accounting

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How Will AI Affect Accounting and Invoicing?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has permeated nearly every industry, including accounting. Writing for The Motley Fool, Andrew Tonner reveals that 85 percent of customer service interactions will occur between customers and chat bots by 2020, based on Gartner research. Additionally, a Bank of America report estimates the economic impact of AI at between $14 and $33 trillion.

Two accountants discuss automation.

AI can also drive decision-making and high-level operations in accounting and invoicing. Discover the following areas where AI might impact accounting departments.

Cloud Computing and AI Transforming Accounting Operations

Many businesses have already shifted their infrastructure into the cloud, according to Gartner, which calls cloud computing “one of the most disruptive forces of IT spending.” According to Gartner, the cloud will impact more than $1 trillion in information technology spending by 2020.

Writing for Forbes, Ceterus founder and CEO Levi Morehouse unites the cloud with AI and robots as the future of accounting and invoicing. Morehouse suggests that accounting professionals will shift more toward solutions instead of tools as AI and the cloud become more commonplace in corporate environments.

According to Morehouse, accounting professionals will use AI and the cloud to compute massive amounts of data in short time periods, and he notes that AI can help amass data as well as find patterns and anomalies so that accountants and other financial professionals can make more informed decisions.

In an article for the New York Times, Google Cloud’s Quentin Hardy explains that the cloud offers unprecedented security for data, which could make it more appealing for accounting professionals. Safely storing financial data can make a company less vulnerable to intrusion and liability, and adding AI to the equation could hasten accounting processes and allow accounting professionals to focus on fewer menial or redundant tasks.

Humans and Machines Might Join Forces Through AI in Accounting

In addition to the cloud, machines may play a pivotal role in accounting decision-making as AI becomes more accepted in the industry. An Accenture report states that machines will likely take over lower-level roles in accounting departments, freeing accounting leaders to focus on “judgment-intensive” tasks.

According to Accenture, AI could impact different accounting jobs in different ways. For instance, financial controllers might shift their focus from detecting problems after they occur to anticipating them based on big data and preventing problems through machine learning. Financial planners and analysts, by contrast, might experience a different impact from AI — namely, answering more high-level questions when making decisions, such as preparing action plans.

Accenture also asserts that hiring changes could result from AI’s increased role in accounting and invoicing. For instance, accounting firms and other businesses may focus more on strategic hiring for key roles instead of hiring professionals for every finance-related job description. Additionally, Accenture believes that companies will need diverse talent in their accounting departments, particularly with regard to generational differences.

Finally, Accenture suggests that AI will inspire companies to embrace “forward-thinking analytics.” In other words, instead of reviewing past data to make decisions in the present, accounting professionals might forecast weeks, months, or even years in advance using high-level AI and data processing. As more data becomes available, accounting professionals may work alongside intelligent machines to better understand how the past influences the future, especially when attempting to prevent serious financial problems.

AI Could Make Accounting Professionals’ Lives Easier

While some accounting professionals may worry that smart machines and AI will reduce job availability in the future, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, forecasts 11 percent growth for the accounting industry through 2024, which is faster than the average growth rate across all industries. According to the BLS, community health and stricter regulatory compliance requirements will contribute to the growth of accounting jobs.

Business Insider contributor and President of the International Federation of Accountants Rachel Grimes urges accounting professionals to embrace machine learning and other aspects of AI. According to Grimes, smarter computer systems might allow accounting leaders to focus more heavily on strategy and desired outcomes than on repetitive tasks. She compares the accounting industry to health care, noting that AI has infiltrated hospitals and doctor’s offices without displacing medical staff, such as nurses and doctors.

Just as in the health care field, accounting departments will still need humans to analyze reports, speculate about future outcomes, manage smart machinery, and intervene when they suspect faulty data. Even when a machine collects and analyzes data, human intervention may permit forward-thinking solutions, regardless of the industry.

Additionally, Grimes notes that good accountants must take a proactive approach to AI’s adoption. She suggests expanding one’s education, learning how to interact with smart technology, and closing any skills gaps that could render an accounting professional less attractive to potential employers.

Education Could Provide More Opportunities

An online bachelor’s of accounting degree can allow accounting professionals to explore potential job opportunities and focus more heavily on predictive technology. For instance, students can choose from several potential job roles, including:

• Accounting and auditing
• Budget analysis
Financial advising
• Financial analysis
• Financial management

Each career path can lead to bright opportunities, especially for professionals who embrace AI, the cloud, and intelligent machines.

If you are interested in pursuing an accounting position, visit Maryville University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree to learn more about the program’s curriculum and its unique approach to online learning.

Sources:

https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/12/10/9-artificial-intelligence-stats-that-will-blow-you.aspx

http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3384720

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2017/03/13/how-ai-cloud-and-robots-will-revolutionize-smb-accounting/#1d2714c10b71

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/insider/where-does-cloud-storage-really-reside-and-is-it-secure.html

https://www.accenture.com/t20161219T223536__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-17/Accenture-Strategy-Architecting-the-Future-Finance-Workforce.pdf

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-6

http://uk.businessinsider.com/artificial-intelligence-is-an-opportunity-for-accounting-2017-3?r=US&IR=T