For both in-house accountants and outsourced professionals, today’s accounting landscape can feel fragmented, chaotic, labor-intensive and overly tactical. Financial leaders understand the importance of tech and AI to remedy these issues, and they understand that tech is essential to the future of the business. But they also recognize that, despite the pressure to rightsize their function inhouse or scale offerings and automate business processes, there are two fundamental barriers to success.
First, many downstream accounting tech solutions are simply not ready for full automation and AI-powered transactions. These products are dependent on outdated structures that rely heavily on manual processes, and they are struggling to “patch” new solutions onto old software that was not built to accommodate new technology. Second, it’s important for the business clients you work with to understand that people are still critical for the nuanced, day-to-day decision making that must happen in any financial role. And more importantly, people are essential for determining the strategic direction of the accounting function.
Businesses — especially small and midsize businesses — deserve a more modern and efficient accounting function that takes these factors into account. To close the gaps, a successful accounting offering for the next generation of business owners must provide a combination of tech and people-led approaches. Because while more companies can — and should — embrace a tech-centric approach to their accounting services, technology alone will never replace the need for real humans.
Technology offers a big boost
To date, technology has allowed accountants to automate repetitive tasks, provide data analysis and processing capabilities, and reduce human error, among other benefits.
The promise of AI is enormous. According to a
Yet in a June 2023 article, Thomson Reuters also noted there are
Tech has its limits
AI will not be taking over the accounting world quite yet. No matter how much faster and more efficient AI and machine learning can make standard transactions, no tech solution will ever be able to replace humans. That’s because machines are simply not yet able to interpret nonstandard situations, address biases in algorithms, or apply the judgment required for complex decision making.
Only an accounting professional can leverage his or her professional judgment, build relationships, think strategically and communicate nuance beyond the data on the page.
The human element is also essential for filling in the gaps between legacy systems and new technologies. For example, the collaboration and synthesis required to navigate and interpret data among multiple systems and product teams that don’t necessarily “speak the same language” can only be done through real, human interaction.
Embracing a growth mindset
The benefits of a tech-forward approach are clear. Tech can simplify processes, identify trends and help with forecasting. It’s not to be ignored. Once financial activities are more streamlined and automated, accounting professionals can better augment their roles and make clear, informed business decisions. As they move away from more mundane tasks and streamline processes, accounting professionals can play a more strategic role in helping to position the company for success.
But the AI landscape is also evolving quickly. As the available technology improves, accountants must adapt and be willing to embrace new solutions. To do so, they must commit to continuously monitoring the landscape and upskilling when necessary. Tech and AI are improving nearly every aspect of accounting — from bookkeeping to tax filing, forecasting, payroll and more. The pace and quantity of change can be overwhelming. But with the right people in place and continued focus on the opportunities of tech, accountants — and the businesses they work with — can reap the rewards of the AI revolution.
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