AI has received a significant amount of attention lately. It may seem like an intimidating topic, but AI simply represents a computer program or suite of programs that allow computers to replicate human behavior or insights. The implementation of AI across the industry will have profound impacts on accounting, data management processes, and other businesses moving forward. Automating and streamlining the flow of information from the organization to external stakeholders will help CPAs and other accounting professionals interpret, analyze, and report data, while also allowing accountants to provide higher level advice versus traditional number crunching.
AI will have a powerful impact on the accounting profession as lower-level services and tasks continue to be automated or outsourced to technology and other tools available. It is one thing to understand these trends; however, it is an entirely different task to implement AI into the business environment. Let’s take a look at a few of the impacts and ramifications that AI will, and already is, having on the accounting profession and the clients served by accountants.
AI and machine learning are already changing our lives every day, even if we don’t realize it, and this technology trend is coming to the accounting profession.
AI is being programmed to function as both an administrative role and customer support aspect. From answering your phone calls to booking appointments to responding to customer requests by reading and understanding emails, voicemail, and text messages, AI is already presented in the business environment.
This is another area where we already see the impact of AI. AI and data analysis allows CPAs to streamline the audit process by validating and analyzing data in a real-time and continuous manner. It could take 10 hours to complete analytical testing on an audit section, whereas AI can do the same testing within minutes and come to a better conclusion than a traditional staff accountant. The question is not when can AI save significant amounts of time on audit engagements but when do you plan to deploy this software in your practice.
In the past, the question for practitioners was: Do I deploy a scan and auto-flow new products in when doing my practices tax return as a way to reduce costs and increase capacity? Now the question is: Why are you not leveraging these technologies? The future will bring even more automation into the individual tax practice in the form of bots who will automatically complete your clients’ tax returns for you.
The Silver Lining
The silver lining in AI, is that by embracing AI and the automation that comes with it, it will allow you the capacity, new skills, and knowledge to begin our transition into becoming proactive advisors for our clients.
CPAs have been saying for years that they want to transition from bean counters to strategic advisors, and AI is providing practitioners with a tool and platform to accomplish just that. It’s time to adapt and embrace the entrepreneurial CPA mindset so you can help your firm move from an accountant to an advisory.
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