How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Impacts Accounting

In 2001, Steven Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence seemed so futuristic and not a possibility in our lifetimes. Times have changed, and AI has forged its way into a multitude of industries – even accounting. Components of AI – including machine learning, deep learning, machine reasoning and natural language processing – are impacting accounting in many ways.

What AI (artificial intelligence) is

AI allows machines (bots) to learn from experience, interpret information, make adjustments and apply what they “know” to perform humanlike tasks.

  • Machine learning gives computers the ability to recognize and apply patterns to develop algorithms that they can then fine-tune based on feedback; an example is the way Netflix can offer you suggestions of what to watch based on your viewing history.
  • Through deep learning, computers develop the ability to identify relationships and associations.
  • When machines “understand” information, they can actually “think” of the implications of that data and analyze it with machine reasoning.
  • Computers use natural language processing based on their understanding of human speech.
  • They “recognize” people, activities and objects, and “view” images with computer vision; an example is the way the iPhone X recognizes the face of its user.

How AI is used in accounting

Accountants have to sift through enormous amounts of data to do their jobs. When AI is introduced, it can eliminate some of the mundane tasks that accountants must do. For example, it can digest and analyze large volumes of data at faster-than-human speeds, interpret contracts or deeds, extract key terms and analyze them, and occasionally solve problems that couldn’t be solved before. For example, if an accounting firm is tasked with complex issues regarding billing systems of multiple clients, AI’s machine learning can rifle through the data and flag the problem accounts, even if the systems are disparate.

For compliance considerations, AI provides accountants with reliable, fast data each time they generate a report, maximizing efficiency. In terms of data categorization, AI bots can sift through information and place it into the appropriate accounts because it understands the differences in categories. Machines begin to learn to make better decisions based on human input, and they can even adapt to an accountant’s behavioral patterns.

Will AI replace accountants?

Because AI can do some of the tasks that humans normally do, some lower-level positions could be affected; however, AI will not replace accountants. In fact, employment for accountants is expected to grow 10 percent through 2026 – higher than average. AI can take on the tedious work that takes up so much time – data entry and reconciliation – and will also eliminate errors, reducing liability. With the mundane tasks handled, accountants will be free to engage in more advisory roles. They’ll be able to focus on strategy – process improvement, cost control and capital optimization – and will still have control over sensitive information.

What are the major takeaways of AI’s impact on accounting?

AI and the cloud work together to compute massive amounts of data in a very short period of time. This service streamlines operations by saving time, cutting costs, increasing productivity and providing more accurate results. Perhaps the greatest impact, however, is the change in mind-set that AI brings.

Accountants are becoming very tech-savvy and are embracing the AI tools that do the tedious work for them so they can spend their time analyzing reports, speculating on future outcomes, managing the machinery and intervening if something goes awry.

What additional skills do accountants need in a world with AI?

Companies are going to need accountants with more diverse skills. Those who are familiar with technology and are not afraid of it will be more valuable than those who shy away from it. Having a strong background in data management will be extremely helpful. Learning accounting software such as Intuit, OneUp, Sage or Xero will put them at an advantage. Other in-demand accounting technology skills include:

  • Advanced knowledge of Excel
  • ERP experience, such as SAP or Oracle
  • Microsoft Visual Basic skills
  • Knowing Hyperion for analyst and financial reporting
  • Knowledge of big data analysis

In addition to being tech-savvy, accountants should have excellent customer service skills and be good communicators.

How enrolling at MTI College of Sacramento can prepare you for an accounting career

MTI College offers an Accounting Technician diploma program that prepares you for an entry-level position in accounting and bookkeeping. You’ll learn a number of computer-based accounting applications, as well as other accounting software that businesses use every day, such as Microsoft Office.

Upon completion of the comprehensive, 36-week program, you will be able to transition directly into a professional working environment. As an accounting technician, your duties may include:

  • Calculating and recording numerical data related to business expenses and income
  • Handling money
  • Analyzing financial data
  • Preparing reports

When you’re ready to work, MTI’s job placement staff can help you find that important first job. They will assist with resume writing and offer tips on job interviews.

Contact MTI College today and take the first step toward a rewarding career in accounting.

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