It’s easy to think that artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies are a long way off. Many firms would rather focus on more short-term, immediate problems. However, the fact is that these technologies are already affecting the way firms operate. And firms that can look a little further down the road will also find that automation in accounting firms can help solve their short-term problems. A recent Accounting Today webinar explored some emerging technologies with Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Product Managers, who discussed what’s available today, and what’s coming.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
“Can a robot do your job?” is a question on a lot of minds lately. Most accountants understand that automation will continue to take over simple compliance work. However, this does not mean that accountants will lose their relevance. Instead, accountants will need to transition from compliance providers to client advisers. Rather than push back against this trend, accountants should embrace it. Typing numbers into a computer is not fulfilling work. Let the computers do the busywork so you can focus on what matters. While full automation may take a while to arrive, many technologies available right now can help firms begin to adapt.
Take autonomous vehicles, for example. Self-driving cars have generated a lot of hype lately. While fully autonomous cars aren’t on the road right now, and may never achieve widespread adoption, more and more functions have been automated. If you’ve ever used cruise control or parking assist, you’ve experienced some degree of autonomous driving. The chart below breaks down various levels of automation in accounting firms, using autonomous vehicles as a comparison. Different functions of the accounting firm have been automated to different degrees. You don’t need to be comfortable with full automation to benefit from some level of automation.