Though you may not have noticed it, Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been in use in one form or another for seventy years. It’s only become so much more well known in recent years due to the rapid advancements made in the field because of increased computing power, big data, and new machine learning algorithms. Resulting in AI capabilities that have begun to infiltrate our daily lives.
With AI adoption on the rise among consumers and businesses, it’s important for CPAs to understand the fundamentals of AI and its potential impact on organizations and clients.
In 2020 and beyond, the CPA profession has an opportunity to use AI to enable innovation and increased productivity, allowing CPAs to perform better quality work with much higher efficiency. But to do that, CPAs need a solid understanding of how AI works before they can identify these opportunities.
So what is AI? Really?
The short answer: AI is the science of teaching programs and machines to complete tasks that normally require human intelligence.
And…Why is it important for CPAs to stay up to date with AI’s bleeding-edge technology?
Essentially, AI has the potential to greatly impact jobs in accounting and assurance in the near future, if it hasn’t already. Transactional tasks are increasingly being automated. The complex algorithms that help you decide what to watch on Netflix can also be used to spot subtle clues in data to pinpoint fraud or identify new opportunities for savings or profitability.
While many industries fear that AI could make them obsolete, CPAs have the opportunity to focus on AI as an enabler of innovation and increased productivity in the field. Especially when it comes to reading contracts, identifying and recording expenses, and identifying risky transactions in real-time. But AI can’t do that on its own. It requires talented CPAs to feed it the information it needs in order to complete these complicated tasks. That could mean that, in the future, an accountant might be a 50% business position and 50% IT position. Accountants with years of experience, who know the profession inside and out, will be far more prepared to manage the AI processes than even an expert in artificial intelligence. It’s nice to know how these programs work at a technical level, but it is even more important to know what their end goal is.
So while many worry that AI may actually be a job killer, it could make properly trained accountants even more indispensable than ever.