July 3, 2023

AI: Helping us to Work Smarter, not Harder

The term “artificial intelligence” still brings science fiction to mind. With connotations of chatty robots and malevolent supercomputers, the concept of artificial intelligence still seems strange, foreign, and distant. As you may know, however, the future of AI is already here, albeit in more mundane, practical forms. Across professions, we are seeing a revolution in how we do work, assisted and enhanced by increasingly “smart” computers. While we are not yet able to chat with these machines about the Oscars, or get a second opinion on a new pair of shoes, AI is disrupting virtually all industries, helping us to be more effective in our jobs, and cutting out the rote processes that take up so much of our time.

If you’ve noticed that terms like “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” are getting a lot more press in recent years, you’re onto something. Thanks to two major factors – more powerful computers and more data to work with – artificial intelligence has made huge strides over the last decade. Computers have actually begun to “teach” themselves, thanks largely to the internet, by aggregating large amounts of data, establishing patterns from that data, and predicting outcomes based on those patterns. Sounds like us! This is how computers can now beat us at virtually any board game, and can learn to drive a car without a nervous dad explaining the proper use of the turn signal. As machines learn to do traditionally human tasks, we will naturally see disruptions in the way we work.

Much of the debate regarding artificial intelligence concerns one of the most important words in our society: jobs. There is concern that artificially intelligent machines will out-compete humans, stealing jobs and raising unemployment. While responsibly adjusting to a world with AI is important, this doom-and-gloom assessment paints an incomplete picture. AI isn’t necessarily taking our jobs; it’s making us better at them. We currently enjoy huge benefits to productivity thanks to basic AI in the workplace. When your Office applications autocorrect grammar errors, or automatically populate a spreadsheet using formulas, you’re reaping the benefits of some basic AI. Humans are still needed to oversee and implement AI tools, and we become more effective when we use them.

AI and Accounting

The field of accounting has much to gain from AI advancements. Accounting has been done in much the same way for centuries. While there is no need to reinvent the wheel, the industry could use some updating. As anyone in the profession will tell you, rote procedural tasks take up a huge amount of our time. This is where AI is already stepping in and picking up the slack. We still need accountants in the driver’s seat, but allowing AI to autopilot certain tasks will help us to become more efficient, informed, and competitive.

Computers do three things well: precision, speed, and scale. A simple example is the new ability of computers to “read” through long documents and find the key figures we need, automatically putting them in a document, or adding them to a ledger. AI can also serve as a powerful quick-reference tool, using language-processing to retrieve key information, such as a tax code item, without using valuable time to search for it.

Along with cutting down on monotonous, time-consuming tasks, AI can help accountants add informational value to their clients and companies. One key function of an accounting system is to inform financial decisions, both for current and prospective stakeholders. From cost and revenue figures, to deeper metrics such as customer spending patterns, the value of this service depends on the quantity and quality of data you have. AI, when properly utilized, is a powerful tool for analytics. Applications can quickly compile huge amounts of key data, enabling accountants to analyze and present it, and companies to use it to inform decisions.

At Counting Cloud, we see the value of AI for the accounting profession, and we’re eager to stay on the cutting edge for the sake of our clients. We are excited about the valuable data and powerful applications that our cloud-based suite provides, and how these tools translate to making our clients more competitive. From savings on your accounting fees to better informing your decisions, AI is a powerful tool that is changing the industry. We’re happy to see the change, and happier to be part of it.

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