Artificial Intelligence. You’ve heard of it, you’ve certainly used it, perhaps you have a basic working knowledge of it works. We unknowingly use artificial intelligence (AI) in our everyday lives often without realizing the interaction took place at all. Our reality has become such that we’re accustomed to the conveniences of AI in our everyday lives that we don’t realize we’re using it more and more each day.
Whether it’s through social media or bank apps, online shopping, customer chat support or the smartphone in your hand, AI has permeated nearly every facet of our personal lives. Similar to the rollout of electricity, computers, or the internet, we always seem to find ways to deliver a competitive advantage through technology systems. For today’s accounting and finance professionals, AI isn’t coming, it’s here. And it’s changing everything.
Freeing accounting professionals from the more monotonous, repetitive tasks, AI is ushering in a new standard of efficiency as humans have more time to focus tasks that absolutely require human cognition.
What is Machine Learning?
There are many ways AI can be applied to accounting, perhaps none more significant or disruptive than machine learning. Machine learning is the subfield of AI which gives your internal systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being directly and explicitly programmed.
Machine learning impacts finance departments through smarter software systems which already perform accounting functions previously requiring human intervention. These are the repetitive, manual, and tedious tasks that get eliminated so less time is spent on keeping accounts up-to-date.
The arrival of machine learning and AI is more about complementing human decision-making, rather than replacing it. Instead of making humans redundant, machine learning and AI helps to automate the time-consuming and repetitive tasks accountants do on a day-to-day basis, such as those involved in data entry, basic bookkeeping, and CRM administration. Processing these tasks involving larger sets of data at speeds no human could achieve allows accountants to focus on growth strategies.
Finance pros can help improve their experience with AI over time by teaching it. Since AI mimics the way humans think, AI enabled accounting systems learn to manage more complex tasks through repetition and experience. Humans teaching AI-enabled systems looks something like this: An accountant corrects a line item, the AI learns from the correction and improves its algorithm based on the correction. Over time and through machine learning, accounting staff spends less time on mentally taxing, menial tasks like basic bookkeeping practices.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning-enabled ERP technology are shaking up the accounting industry. Accounting firms have had to overhaul their business models and service offerings after businesses with advanced accounting capability and automation have moved those repetitive tasks in-house.
By processing large datasets to detect patterns, spot trends, and uncover inconsistencies quicker and more effectively, AI ERP gives staff accountants deeper, more actionable insights than an outside firm could offer. This is good for the accounting industry overall as AI and machine learning eliminates errors and saves time.
The transition may not be smooth with so much fear surrounding artificial intelligence technology. It’s good to remember where technology can do the heavy number crunching and report compilations and where an accountant’s human and emotional intelligence is required. Machines can’t think like us, nor can they offer emotional intelligence, but they can make accountants more efficient and productive to provide better insight into their organizations.
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