Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often used in science fiction to describe robots that take over the world, but lately the term has worked its way into workplaces around the world. As technological innovations become more sophisticated, AI is able to take on specific tasks in industries like customer service and manufacturing that previously could only be done by humans. The accounting industry is no exception.
As AI technology becomes integrated into more jobs, many people feel both a fear and resentment that their jobs may become obsolete. Jobs that require labor-intensive, automatable actions can be done quicker and more precisely through the use of AI systems. However, many jobs still require some level of human intelligence and oversight.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) uses computer systems to complete repetitive tasks quickly and accurately. With the evolution of machine learning algorithms, AI can also analyze and self-learn processes to adapt for greater accuracy and efficiency over time. AI has been used in a variety of programs, from chatbots that respond to individual customer needs to image recognition software to sophisticated predictive data analysis models.
AI in the accounting world
It’s no surprise that AI has already begun to revolutionize how accountants work. All of the time-consuming tasks, like writing out equations, data entry, and logging balance sheets by hand, can now be done in mere seconds using programs like Excel®, Xero, Intuit and Sage.
In accounting, AI is used for processes like preparing taxes, auditing, and doing payroll. These repetitive processes are made simpler and finished faster using programs with AI and machine learning as compared to being done by hand. But these programs do not mean the end of accounting as we know it.
While AI development has prompted a lot of positive changes in the field of accounting, it is not infallible. These processes require some human oversight to ensure that the programs are working correctly and outputting accurate results. Still, with the time that accountants are saving using AI, the role of an accountant has changed significantly to include both responsibilities that otherwise may have been managed by another role and new duties that have arisen since the incorporation of AI in accounting practices.
Changes in the role of accounting
With technological advances, the role of an accountant in accounting firms has shifted to incorporate new skill sets. Today’s accountants must have digital literacy and problem-solving abilities be able to learn new programs as they are adopted across the industry. Additionally, accountants need to ensure that the programs they use work efficiently and accurately to comply with standards set by the government and national accounting boards. The incorporation of Information Technology (IT) into professional careers has been a useful side effect in many industries, accounting included.
How can you adapt to AI changes?
Incorporating AI into the accounting world may seem scary, but the key to a successful career as an accountant is embracing the changing environment. Many universities are incorporating some level of IT learning into their business curricula, which helps college students hit the ground running when using AI systems in their new careers. Additionally, many firms offer training programs to help employees get to know how new software works.
When used properly, AI programs can save employees time, and that time can be used for developing irreplaceable skill sets that can advance your career, like gaining your CPA license. As AI takes over the more mundane tasks, the knowledge-based skills acquired through the CPA credentialing process give prospective employees an edge above other candidates and AI machines.
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