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What You Need to Know About AI in Accounting

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already changing the accounting industry, with increased use projected in the coming years. What does this mean for accounting professionals seeking career advancement? Industry experts don't expect technology will replace humans anytime soon, but firms that provide accounting and other financial services must adapt to stay competitive.

AI enables computers to perform decision-based tasks previously done by humans. It manifests in multiple forms, including machine-based learning that becomes progressively more competent at analysis and decision-making the more it is used. Another example of AI at work is speech-based technology that understands different voices and languages.

Technology, including AI, has worked its way into every industry. For accounting professionals, it reduces the need for manual data entry, improving speed, accuracy and quality. AI is already in use to process and analyze large volumes of data much faster than an individual or a team of people can.

Preparing for the Future

Accounting professionals can expect technology to take over some of their tasks. Those who embrace the resulting changes can look forward to better opportunities for advancement than those who don't. Embracing these changes involves building a strong foundation in data management and understanding the new technologies.

Organizations of all kinds are at various stages of implementing AI. In a survey by MIT-Boston Consulting Group, respondents noted that the top obstacles to implementing technology include a lack of access to data needed to train algorithms, a lack of understanding of the benefits to their business, a shortage of talent, competing investment priorities, security concerns, and a lack of concern by leaders.

Nearly 85% of the more than 3,000 business executives queried in the survey said they expect the use of AI to give them a competitive edge. Yet, only one in 20, or 5% of companies, said they were using it extensively, and less than 39% of companies said they had an AI strategy in place.

The MIT-Boston Consulting Group survey also reported findings of relevance for accounting professionals, with 84% of respondents agreeing that accounting professionals will need to change their existing skill sets in response to AI in the workforce. In addition, 79% expect company productivity to improve, and 47% expect workforce reductions. Thirty-one percent of respondents fear that AI will take over some of their job tasks, and 70% hope that AI will take over some of their tasks.

AI Allows People to Focus on the Complex Tasks

Business.com reported that the use of AI to handle certain accounting tasks, including data entry and organization, would free up time for accountants, enabling them to focus on other important tasks, such as preparing clients for large financial transactions, including IPOs.

Even as more administrative tasks are automated, accountants can strengthen their position as trusted advisers to their clients by providing additional, in-demand services, such as cash-flow consulting, says a Forbes article.

AI will continue to change the way accounting and other financial services are provided, eliminating the need for humans to perform some tasks. Forward-thinking accounting professionals who anticipate and prepare for these changes can play important roles in implementing them.

Learn more about Pittsburg State University's online MBA in Accounting program.


Sources:

Axios: Executives Say AI Will Change Business, But Aren't Doing Much About It

Business.com: How AI and Automation Technology Can Help Accountants

Forbes: Accounting Trends of Tomorrow: What You Need to Know

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