It wasn’t too long ago when the concepts of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation were reserved for science fiction novels and fantasy films. Fast-forward to today and this technology has made its way to our everyday lives. From retail and healthcare to agriculture and manufacturing, automation has disrupted a wide array of industries for the better.
At this rate, the digital revolution can only go uphill from here. In a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, it is estimated that between 400 million and 800 million of today’s jobs will be automated by 2030. While many workers have taken this news as a cause for alarm, it isn't exactly a doomsday situation. Instead, AI will pave the way for a newly structured working landscape where people can develop new skills fit for the technological generation.
This can't be more true for the field of accountancy, where automation has the potential to enhance the best of human talents with the benefits of tech. It’s not a matter of one replacing the other, but allowing them both to complement their respective strengths.
More emphasis on human conversation
Setting aside the Siris and Alexas of the world, robots have a long way to go before they can develop fundamental human abilities. An AI feature on The Conversation notes that this includes being able to make quality conversation, form coherent sentences, and build a personal rapport. This might not matter as much in industries like manufacturing or agriculture since these involve less client interaction, but you can’t take away the value of communication and heart in accountancy. Although they're driven by numbers, accountants need to be able to understand their clients’ personal goals and needs. And with automation, they can devote more energy into providing meaningful insights and strategies to help businesses flourish.
Less time for laborious tasks
Perhaps the biggest perk to automation is how it can make low-value work a thing of the past. An article on working smart by Verizon Connect reveals that many workers end up wasting valuable time on menial tasks, instead of channelling their focus into more productive duties. Just as technology can now track fleets and schedule optimised trips automatically for commercial truckers, it can also do the leg work that accountants usually get bogged down by. This means not as much paperwork, doing manual data entry, and long computations. On top of this, it also minimises the potential for human error, boosting accuracy and efficiency at the same time.
Tele-accounting is the future
Remote work has already started becoming normal in various industries, like in creative firms and agencies where jobs can easily be done online. This arrangement can also benefit customers who no longer have to commute and fall in line at offices just to purchase different services. With this newfound convenience, software now has much bigger shoes to fill. We’re already seeing it happen through efforts such as the Making Tax Digital initiative, as well as the growing trend of web-based consultants that are likely to be favoured over brick-and-mortar accounting firms thanks to their user-friendliness.
Increasing accessibility for business owners
No matter what the nature of a business is, it needs financial data to operate effectively. However, not everyone has a team of accounts at their disposal, especially for small businesses or individuals. With automation, finance tools are made more accessible even for those without an accounting background. These include services like billing, creating financial statements, budgets, and payroll integration, which can now be done virtually.
Empowering accountants to step up
While automation can take care of the tedious side of accounting, professionals must still know how to make sense of the numbers. This way, PwC’s findings suggest that new technology can act as an accountant’s assistant through automation. This allows accountants to step up and take on a more CFO-like stance, focusing on improving revenue, formulating KPIs, and more.
Article prepared by Carrie Thomas
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