When we used to watch 80’s movies that referenced the future, and all the robots they predicted, did you really think it would be here this soon? Artificial Intelligence has sprung into our lives over the past couple of years and has facilitated many day to day tasks. AI for accounting purposes is revolutionizing the way we access and organize information to a point where more of our time is our own. Think of it less as “artificial” and more as “augmented”. McKinsey Digital has found that the software available now has the ability to replace 45 percent of the activities individuals are paid to perform. Since this is the early stages of a massive revolution, we will be taking a look at some of the technology already in place, and the benefits AI has on accounting.
What is AI in Accounting?
Artificial Intelligence is the new technology type in which you can ask it a question or assign task can be assigned to a bot and it is programmed to amass the information and present it in the way you have asked it to. AI has brought facilitation to the repetitive areas of accounting, with the constant need for reports and number generating, the assembly of these lists can be quite time consuming. AI is capable of taking the simple requests with little information, and immediately produces exactly what you need. Soon, AI will be able to complete more complex tasks liken the Code Free accounting that Xero is working on which we will talk about in a minute. Accounts payable and accounts receivable functions will also be able to be handled from start to finish, easing the workload of bookkeepers and accountants.
Xero’s Code Free Accounting: This version of cloud-based accounting is the next step towards streamlining the process. This function removes the need for manual coding, which is the culprit of most errors in final numbers, and in turn, opens up the channel of productivity to allow for more business.
QuickBooks Online: Not to be outdone, QuickBooks Online also includes automation features – for instance automatically suggesting matches for transactions
OCR: Receipts scanning applications including Hubdoc can ‘read’ a paper receipt and extract information such as invoice total, tax amount, vendor name, etc.
Chata and AutoQL: A solution for conversational data access, you can type questions into a chat widget – like “what were my most profitable customers last quarter” and the AI will answer for you. The technology interprets your query, looks for the data in your accounting system and returns a beautiful chart.
Watson AI (IBM): This AI computer system is already being used to advance scientific research. By inputting data collected from doctors and scientists, diagnoses have been made at a fast enough rate that cancer patients have had received their answers sooner than before.
Cash Flow projections: plug in a cash flow prediction application into your accounting software and it may be able to predict how soon your customer will pay you, based on past behavior. Examples include Float, Helm, Dryrun, and Cash Flow Frog.
AI is allowing accountants to focus on higher value tasks like advising and tax planning, and leaving the arduous report generating and code inputting to the computer. While we are still a ways off from databases like JARVIS in the Iron Man series, this is leaps and bounds ahead of what the previous generations could have imagined.