Artificial Intelligence: Beyond the Buzzword

Anyone who has read anything about technology lately knows that artificial intelligence is a hot topic. Accounting media has no shortage of news, opinions and speculation about this breakthrough new technology. But it’s not all hype. Emerging technologies have gone mainstream. And these advanced technologies are making an impact.

Technology “Hard Trends”

CPA Practice Advisor recently published a list of technology “hard trends” that will be affecting accountants in the future. “Hard Trends” are trends that are almost certain to have an impact, as opposed to “soft trends,” which may be more influenced by enthusiasm and hype. Artificial Intelligence is the first on the list. Futurist Daniel Burrus says, “Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, such as Google’s DeepMind and IBM’s Watson, coupled with networked intelligent machines and sensors will create a giant leap forward, thanks to exponential advances in computing power, digital storage, and bandwidth. A.I. increasingly will become embedded in our applications and processes.”

Top Technology for Top 100 Firms

In Accounting Today, Dan Hood interviews leaders from many top 100 firms about technologies they expect to have an impact on their firms. Many of these firms are already using artificial intelligence in a number of varied applications. And they expect the trend to grow quickly. Hood quotes Grant Thornton CEO Mike McGuire, saying “Innovation and emerging technologies are center stage at our firm, and we believe tools like blockchain, AI and RPA, among others, will transform the industry over the next several years.”

Another Door Opens

Writing in the Journal of Accountancy, Amy Vetter makes the case for embracing artificial intelligence and machine learning. Accountants needn’t fear being automated out of a job. Instead, they should look at automation as an opportunity to develop more strategic client relationships. She writes, “The work activities that are less susceptible to automation include tasks that involve human connection, emotional intelligence, and complex analysis such as managing others, applying expertise, and interacting with stakeholders.”

Implications for the future

Of course, artificial intelligence may seem daunting, especially for firms with minimal information technology resources. But that doesn’t mean advanced technologies are out of reach. In fact, technology vendors are already incorporating AI, machine learning and robotic process automation into tools available today. It’s absolutely possible to continue to serve your clients during this time of transformation. And with the new breed of accounting tools, you can serve them faster and more proactively.

AUTHOR

Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall