The future of accounting: coexistence with bots


In a recent global survey, covering all business areas, nearly 90% of business leaders said they plan to deploy smart automation to stay ahead of their competition.

42% of CEOs indicated that their organizations are already engaged in a transition to digital transformation, and 56% indicated that they have made gains through the implementation of intelligent automation.

Financial functions on techno steroids

All functional areas of the business are candidates for smarter automation. Best of all, perhaps the financial function. Supplier integration, accounts payable, audits, purchasing, cost management, processing of closings and customer inquiries are some of the accounting activities and procedures that computer technology can streamline.

Technologies like machine learning can help businesses increase their value by improving loan underwriting and reducing financial risk. As corporate accountants, analysts, treasurers, and investors strive to achieve long-term prosperity, AI can help reduce financial crime through improved fraud detection and behavioral detection. unusual transactions.

Smart technology is influencing the types of professional roles that will be accessible in the future of accounting. Humans will undertake more analysis as improved technologies handle monotonous tasks, making it the essential link between data and customers. In the future, technology will continue to influence the function of the accountant and the need for accountants.

Accounting is reaching new heights thanks to technological advancements. Whether you’re a seasoned accounting professional looking to stay on the cutting edge of the business or an ambitious novice, you’ll want to know how the accounting profession is changing due to smarter technology platforms.

Are they coming for our jobs?

When people hear that robots are going to be introduced into the workforce, it usually arouses suspicion, even outright fear and resistance. A few years ago, I was working in the technology division of a large bank. The bank was the first local to introduce a humanoid robot called Pepper. Just under a meter and a half tall, weighing almost 30 kg and with large childish eyes, Pepper was intended to greet customers as they entered a bank branch.

Despite all the excitement around our little electronic colleague, several of my colleagues expressed unease. What made matters worse was that the same week the bank’s financial results were announced. The CEO’s remarks were taken out of context and the media reported that the bank was going to get rid of thousands of workers. Imagine that: the first of a potential cohort of worker robots is introduced and it looks like many would find themselves out of work.

The bank executive actually said he plans to employ fewer people in the next fiscal year due to smarter working methods and better automation.

But whichever way you look at it, smart automation and robotics pose a threat to many workers. We can either fear advances in technology or embrace them, making sure we make ourselves robot-proof.

Educate for the future

What Should Finance Professionals Do? Almost all the mundane and repetitive tasks of the finance function are candidates for automation. They need to make sure they have a good understanding of the business applications of smart technology. They don’t need to become technical experts who can write the algorithms that make a machine learning platform work. They need to understand how their profession evolves, moving from primarily historical reporting and analysis to anticipating and advising on future trends using prediction models.

With automation set to become an important part of accounting in the near future, having the capabilities to perform the management and analytical tasks that technology cannot do is essential. Many accountants may also be in an advisory role to clients, which means they will need to be able to analyze large amounts of data for patterns and trends. Knowledge of data mining and other data science techniques is essential.

The training of future finance professionals must be based on a solid understanding of technological applications to the profession. Higher education institutions in all fields need to review their curricula given the rapidly changing demand for skilled and tech-savvy workers.

Technologies impacting finance

Audits, tax preparation, banking, and payroll are just a few of the labor-intensive aspects of accounting that are quickly becoming fully automated. As AI is used to develop self-learning systems, the technology will support repetitive and time-consuming activities, allowing finance professionals to manage analytical and advisory responsibilities.

Cloud computing provides access to resources such as data and processing power. Constantly updating information is an important advantage of a cloud-based system, allowing accountants and clients to analyze data and make decisions based on the most recent information. Blockchain technology will influence the demand for accountants in the future. The attraction of blockchain for accounting stems from the prospect of a new form of accounting ledger, which can be updated and validated in real time without the risk of being tampered with or damaged.

Welcoming the future

A new neighbor has moved into the financial fraternity next door. Do we fear and avoid it, or do we welcome it and learn to live together in harmony? The new generation of tech colleagues is here to stay. We can avoid them at our peril, or we can form a mutually beneficial cohabitation ecosystem.


Johan steyn is a smart automation and artificial intelligence thought leader and management consultant. He is Chairman of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Special Interest Group at the Institute of Information Technology Professionals of South Africa.

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This article originally appeared in the September 10 edition of weekend. You can buy and download the magazine here.


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