By Tim Sandle
As Artificial Intelligence transforms business, here are five ways AI is expected to disrupt the field of finance. Which could mean a reduction in jobs devoted to these manual tasks and heightened demand for accountants whose strategic thinking is devoted to larger projects.
The technological forces to which traditional models of accountancy are being subjected are outlined in an article in Forbes. Most of these technologies are centered on reducing the over-repetitive, time-consuming and redundant tasks that come with many financial analyses. This will probably mean a reduction in tasks undertaken by financial assistants (and potential job losses); but there will also be more time for accountants to engage in more strategic thinking and to focus on bigger accountancy-based projects.
This change in job roles is also drawn out in a new survey from consulting firm Accenture, which has issued a report titled, “From reporting the past to architecting the future: Meet the Finance 2020 workforce.” Here a clear message is delivered to the finance industry: “As digital technologies transform finance into an analytics powerhouse that derives insight from data, finance talent will need very different skills. Are your people ready to trade spreadsheets for scenarios and reports for recommendations? For finance to expand the business value it delivers and stay relevant — they better be.”
In terms of how digital transformation is altering the landscape, the report notes the following:
Accounts payable and receivable processing: Here artificial intelligence invoice-management systems are making the processing of invoices more streamlined, such as implementing accounting codes that are appropriate for each invoice. An example comes from Nvoicepay. This platform can compare new invoices with old ones and make decisions if a document should go into bucket A or B, or if it should be flagged for human review.
Supplier on-boarding: With this application, machines can vet new suppliers by assessing credit scores or tax information. In addition, companies can be set up on a payments system. An example is Tipalti, which also can analyze the different types of suppliers and make inferences from big data.
Procurement: Technology disrupting procurement can allow integrated and the unstructured data to be processed, making the procurement system paperless. An example is Vroozi, which also enables automated cloud backup of procurement systems.
Audits: Financial audit is key to good accountancy practices, and digitalization of the audit process is under way. Digital audits help to improve the efficiency and accuracy of audits. As an example, EY Helix is a suite of tools that analyzes large volumes of audit-relevant data.
AI chatbots: With chatbots, these are being deployed by accountancy firms to address common customer questions and queries, such as requesting account balances or billing information. An example is Pegg, which can synchronize transactions with platforms like Sage Business Cloud Accounting.
These examples demonstrate how technologies like automation, minibots, machine learning and adaptive intelligence are becoming part of the finance team at a rapid pace.