Because of the advanced calculations and intricate attention to detail in the profession, accountants tend to have a mixed view on automation.
The simplification of certain actions through technology can allow for experts to accomplish tasks more quickly and focus on larger projects. And while the thought of handing valuable company information over to digital processes causes some hesitation, there are automation tools that are making a welcome and significant impact.
Among these is artificial intelligence, or AI, which has permeated nearly every industry, including accounting. Writing for the Motley Fool, tech specialist Andrew Tonner reveals a projection that 85 percent of customer service interactions will occur between customers and chatbots by 2020, based on Gartner research.
Because of its ubiquity and usefulness, a Bank of America report estimates the economic impact of AI to be an increase of between $14 trillion and $33 trillion.
If you’re bold in embracing the technology’s potential, automation and AI can help you drive decision-making and high-level operations strategy in bookkeeping and invoicing. It’s anticipated that future developments with AI in accounting will only continue to transform the industry and impact businesses in a variety of ways.
If you’ve considered exploring career opportunities as an accountant, this may be the perfect time to see how learning to harness AI can help you pursue leadership in the field.
AI in Accounting: Automation Through AI and Cloud Computing
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.” Gartner predicts the cloud will impact more than $1 trillion in information technology spending by 2020.
Writing for Forbes, Ceterus founder and CEO Levi Morehouse groups the cloud with AI and robots as the future of accounting and invoicing. If you’re building your career as an accounting professional, Morehouse suggests, resources like AI and the cloud are likely to become more commonplace in corporate environments. That means familiarizing yourself with them can help prepare you for the future of business — and accounting.
According to Morehouse, as an accounting professional, you can expect to use accounting AI and the cloud to compute massive amounts of data in short time periods. He notes that AI can amass data, as well as find patterns and anomalies, so that you and other financial workers can make better-informed decisions.
That’s not the only benefit of using AI. In an article for the New York Times, Google Cloud’s Quentin Hardy explains that the cloud also 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 for accounting to the equation could hasten processes and allow you to focus on fewer menial or redundant tasks.
Humans and machines might join forces through accounting automation.
In addition to the cloud advancements, machines may play a pivotal role in accounting decision-making as the industry fully embraces AI’s role in accounting.
An Accenture report states that machines will likely take over lower-level roles in accounting departments, freeing accounting professionals to focus on intellectual, “judgment-intensive” tasks. Whether you’re an amateur or veteran accountant, it’s crucial to be knowledgeable about the technology in use and the low-level duties it performs.
Accenture states that accounting tools for AI could impact different accounting jobs in various ways. For example, as a financial controller, you might shift your focus from detecting problems after they occur to anticipating them based on the discovery of big data patterns through AI in accounting. In this way, machine learning can help you and your organization perform better — and avoid potential problems, rather than reacting to them.
If you plan on pursuing a career as a financial planner or analyst, by contrast, you might experience a different impact from AI implementation in accounting. Specifically, AI might be able to help you parse data to answer high-level questions when making decisions or preparing action plans.
How AI impacts change in each field of business and industry will differ; however, one thing that seems certain is that AI in accounting will transform how you conduct procedures in the future.
Accenture also asserts that hiring changes could result from an increased role in the accounting industry’s use of AI. For instance, accounting firms and other businesses may focus more on strategic hiring for key positions 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.
AI in accounting inspires companies to embrace “forward-thinking analytics,” as suggested by Accenture. In other words, instead of reviewing past data to make decisions in the present, you might be tasked with forecasting weeks, months, or even years in advance using high-level AI accounting and data processing.
As more data becomes available, accounting professionals using AI may work alongside intelligent machines to build a better understanding of how the past influences the future, especially when attempting to prevent serious financial problems.
Automation could make accounting professionals’ lives easier.
While it might be easy to imagine that smart machines and AI accounting implementation will reduce job availability in the future, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 10 percent growth for the accounting industry between 2016 and 2026, 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 increase in accounting jobs.
Rachel Grimes, Business Insider contributor and president of the International Federation of Accountants, urges those pursuing a career in accounting to embrace machine learning and other aspects of AI.
According to Grimes, smarter computer systems in accounting might allow you to focus more on strategy and desired outcomes than on repetitive tasks. She compares the accounting industry to healthcare, noting that AI has infiltrated hospitals and doctor’s offices without displacing medical staff, such as nurses and doctors.
Just as in the healthcare field, accounting departments using AI will still need individuals like you 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, your perspective may lead to forward-thinking solutions, regardless of the industry.
There could still very well be shifts in employment and a new importance on certain types of roles, but the human element that you can bring remains crucial as AI’s use in accounting becomes more present.
Additionally, Grimes notes that good accountants must take a proactive approach to the adoption of AI in accounting. She suggests expanding your education, learning how to interact with smart technology, and closing any skills gaps. By embracing the tools and techniques that will shape the accounting industry’s future, you can drastically raise your attractiveness to accounting employers.
Learn how your accounting degree can help prepare you for the future of accounting.
Earning an online bachelor’s degree in accounting can allow you to explore potential job opportunities and learn about AI and predictive technology that will drive the industry’s future. When you earn your online accounting degree, you can qualify for a career in areas like:
Accounting and auditing
Each career path can lead to bright opportunities, especially if you embrace AI in accounting, the cloud, and intelligent machines.
If you’re interested in pursuing an accounting career, learn to address the evolving business landscape. You can start by earning your degree. Check out Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Accounting to learn more about the program’s curriculum to see how we can help you prepare for your future in accounting.