Accountants are happy to adopt automation technology as it helps them in improving their work efficiency and bringing effective results. However, even today, technology has not been able to become a replacement for expert knowledge and decision making. Artificial Intelligence or AI technology can be extremely powerful. Computer scientists are working on the technology since the 1950s, and it has seen amazing progress in recent years.
The technology has potential to provide outputs that can be highly precise, replacing, and in few cases, far dominating. However, you cannot expect from artificial intelligence to replicate human intelligence. To understand the best ways to partner computers and humans, we need to determine the strengths and limits of AI.
AI offers several opportunities (long and short term) for accountants, such as-
- Enhance their work performance
- Provide in-depth insight
- Deliver more value to businesses
- AI systems taking over decision-making tasks presently performed by humans
Does The Future Of Accounting Rely On Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence has spread everywhere. We are using voice enabled personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, etc. Amazon can simply predict what you would like to purchase as per your browsing data. Tesla is already having cars that are intended with self-prediction and automated driving options.
Talking about accountants, one of the domains is auditing. If auditing gets automated, will it affect the industry? Is it even possible?
Companies have numerous transactions over the year and it is merely possible for an auditor to check every transaction. This is why auditing is done for reasonable assurance. Techno experts claim “the procedures of auditing are standard, and if we think about using machine that can learn the same, why will we need humans then? A machine can ensure 100% transactions and deliver compact output.”
However, it is difficult to automate auditing. It involves judgment, standard set of procedures, evolving laws, new transactions that didn’t exist in the history like Bitcoins.
It is impossible to replace human with machines for accountancy. There are valid reasons for the same-
- Artificial Intelligence is not a ‘star player’ that can handle the things alone. It will still need human ability in such areas where judgment is involved and not everything can be automated.
- No doubt, automation will consume several jobs, yet you cannot ignore the opportunities it is bringing.
- Accountants should move from simple tasks like accounting to secure their career as it can be easily automated with AI.
- It is possible that small scale accounting firms can face a threat in future but there is a long time for it.
- AI is no more a future technology as we are using it in present and people are adopting it. We are just waiting for the new changes occurring in the industry.
Will accountants and CA firms make bots as helping partner?
There is nothing wrong if the CA firms and accountants will collaborate with bots to make their work efficient. However, they need to focus on purpose of AI to avail the benefits. Instead of empowering AI technology with decision-making feature, there should be human who can make final decision. It is also important for human to learn the strengths and limits of machine learning.
Strengths of machine learning –
- Large data volumes – Machine learning can process bulk data (both structured and unstructured) better than humans.
- Complex and changing patterns – Machine learning can pick up weaker or highly complex patterns in data.
- Consistency – Machine learning can be more consistent decision-makers. Machine never tired or get bored and never go biased.
Limitations of machine learning-
- Machine learning is not a general AI with flexible models
- Data quality and quantity is basic
- Not all problems have right data for machine learning
- Data reflects existing bias and prejudice in society
Accountants can use AI capabilities for –
- Accounting problems
- Practical challenges
- Institutional issues
- Roles and skills
Accountants can take help of AI technology to solve the following problems-
- Getting better and cheaper data for decision-making
- Getting latest insights from the data analysis report
- Getting free time to focus on important jobs like problem solving, decision making, strategy development, leadership, and relationship building.
In short, to get a positive vision of the future, human has to develop a deep understanding of how AI can be helpful in accounting and business problems. We still require skilled accountants to work alongside AI systems. Jobs will be at risk, but AI cannot neglect the need of the accountants in the companies.