Man vs Robot, Who’s The Real Winner?

Monday, 3 Apr 2017

There’s been quite a lot of speculation recently that the growing sophistication and pervasiveness of artificial intelligence will decimate the ranks of the professional services industry, with accounting particularly endangered.

A 2013 Oxford University study listed accountants and auditors as among the most threatened by computers, with some saying that a large percent of the work done by bookkeepers, accountants, and auditing clerks, had the technical potential to be automated.

And yet, as impressive and powerful as these new technologies and machines are and they’re becoming more so all the time I believe they’re an opportunity to be embraced by accountants.

Computers and software have evolved to a point where they can populate spreadsheets, crunch numbers, and generate financial statements and earnings reports more quickly and accurately than any human accountant. In fact, machines are already taking on many of an accountant’s old, routine, administrative chores on-line tax returns, and book-keeping software, are great examples of routine work that accountants no longer have to do.

This is a good thing. It is already allowing for human accountants to be more sophisticated advisors and planners. In this way, technology can be best used as a tool that gives humans more space to focus on analysis, interpretation, and strategy. In other words, computers have enormous potential to empower rather than displace accountants.

We’ve seen this evolution in many other industries too, so what do you think? Is is a threat to business or a much needed aid and an improvement? Would love for you to share your thoughts! Anatole

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