Take a deep breath.
Robots are NOT going to replace all human accountants or bookkeepers (at least not anytime soon).
White-collar workers who are part of the knowledge economy are beginning to experience what manual laborers have in the past when new technology made their jobs obsolete. Given the improvements we have recently seen in computing, many professionals fear for their future as machines threaten to overtake them.
Rather than fear changes that machine learning will have on accounting tasks, it’s an opportunity for accounting professionals to be excited. The profession is going to become more interesting as repetitive tasks shift to machines. There will be changes, but those changes won’t completely eliminate the need for human accountants, they will just alter their contributions.
Let’s take a look at how machine learning will change accounting.
What is machine learning?
Machine learning is the leading edge of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s a subset of AI where machines can learn by using algorithms to interpret data from the world around us to predict outcomes and learn from successes and failures. As machines infiltrate accounting tasks to take over the more mundane and repetitive tasks, it will free up accountants and bookkeepers to spend more time using their professional knowledge to analyze and interpret the data to provide recommendations for their clients.
Machine learning will propel innovation in accounting
When accounting software companies eliminated desktop support in favor of cloud-based services, accounting firms were forced to adapt to life in the cloud. Similarly, accounting departments and firms will be forced to adopt machine learning to remain competitive since machines can deliver real-time insights, enhance decision making and catapult efficiency.
Accounting tasks that machines can learn to do
Rather than eliminate the human workforce in accounting firms, the humans will have new colleagues—machines—who will pair with them to provide more efficient and effective services to clients. Currently, there is no machine replacement for the emotional intelligence requirements of accounting work, but machines can learn to perform redundant, repeatable and oftentimes extremely time-consuming tasks.
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.