Should the Accounting Industry Worry about the Advent of AI?
The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in finance and accounting processes cannot be overstated. Artificial intelligence has helped professionals in the accounting and audit industry save time, increase the accuracy of their outputs, and upscale their roles. With the AI's progressing role, it is understandable why professionals are worried that AI is taking over the accounting industry. Here's our take on should you be worried about AI's impact on your accounting firm.
Artificial Intelligence in the Accounting Industry
Robotic accounting or robotic process automation is the future of the accounting industry. Leading finance and accounting service providers estimate that 70-80% of finance and accounting tasks are going to be automated in the next few years. The progress brought about by artificial intelligence enabled robots to learn algorithms and perform tasks that currently require humans to accomplish.
LinkedIn Influencer and technology consultant Shelly Palmer wrote in his blog that middle management jobs and bookkeepers are two of the five jobs that robots will take over first. And yes, we agree with his statement. With the coming trend, accountants and accounting firms feel threatened about losing their jobs and even their businesses to robots. But this should not be the case. We already know what is coming. We know the impact of AI in accounting and we just need to see how accountants and firms will benefit from automation.
Robots will alter, not replace accounting jobs
In a previous blog we shared the benefits of shifting to robotic accounting. We argued that accountants are also going to benefit from artificial intelligence in accounting and auditing. With robots taking care of tasks such as bookkeeping, data entry, and payroll processing, accounting professionals and firms will have more time to focus on taking up their services higher in the value chain and providing meaningful services that will bring more satisfaction to their clients.
Pushing robots to perform tasks that are predictable and low-impact helps you not just in delivering faster and more refined results; they also let you improve your services and allow you to develop products that will benefit your customers.
A 2016 study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) revealed that 83% of their members support the idea of automation as it saves time, money, and helps with indecision in their respective organizations. Andrew Hardling, Chief Executive of CIMA further states that their members believe that artificial intelligence and robots will alter the jobs of accountants, not eliminate them.
Accounting firms will just have to take a look at how they currently do things and take robotic process automation and artificial intelligence into consideration. In doing so, they’ll be turning what seemed to be a looming threat to one of the biggest opportunities to take the accounting industry to the next frontier.
Only those who are afraid of embracing the future of accounting technology are the ones who should be worried about AI. The benefits brought in by robotic process automation in finance and accounting are just too important to ignore. Robotic accounting should not be viewed as a threat to the field, but rather a tool to improve the services that accounting firms provide.
This article was posted 07 July 2017 and edited 17 October 2020.