Personalised accounting machines: What do they mean for CAs?
A new machine learning automation system has been launched by software firm Xero, said to 'transform' personalised accounting experiences for small businesses.
Artificial intelligence holds a lot of potential for accountancy. The Big Four are already making use of intelligent learning systems and tools like predictive analytics and natural language generation (NLG) are becoming commonplace. Deloitte recently announced a partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) to build data-driven business products.
On a small business level, however, the advantage of learning systems like Xero's lies in the reduction of time-consuming administrative tasks, allowing for increased productivity in other areas.
This product in particular acts as an automated invoicing tool, evolving with the needs of individual businesses to reduce error and streamline accounting processes through statistical analysis.
Luke Gumbley, Xero Business Product Lead, explained: “Our machine learning automation will give each Xero business and their advisor the unique insights and processes they need to cut the burden on manual tasks and let them spend more time growing their business. We’re not asking them to learn something new - we’re saving them time and money by ensuring the system learns from and for them.”
Are human skills replaceable?
As intelligent technology becomes more integrated and, to a point, expected in business it begs the question: If machines can do all the heavy work of invoices and analysis, will the role of an accountant in small business become obsolete?
Former ICAS President and Chairman of Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG) Jim Pettigrew CA doesn't think so. Instead, he believes this new age of technology will allow the profession to advance beyond the age-old stereotype of 'bean counters' by automating much of the data-heavy mundane work that still falls to accountants, especially those just starting out.
He wrote: "It gives us the real opportunity to move CAs even further up the value chain. It should allow us to focus even more on judgement, expertise and insight."
The CA qualification gives you the skills to act as a business and financial advisor out with the traditional role associated with accountants. The varied careers of ICAS members around the globe are a testament to the value and expertise offered by CAs that is highly unlikely to be robotically replicated anytime soon.