How Is AI Transforming Bookkeeping and Accounting Services?

Jas Saran

By Jas Saran, Feb 10, 2020
Jas is a entrepreneurial enthusiast who loves to watch businesses grow through the use of technology and process efficiency.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of science fiction. We’re increasingly dependent on it, from self-checkouts and speech recognition software to social media algorithms.

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It’s a trend in accounting and bookkeeping as well, one that’s integrating machine learning, cloud computing and automation to greatly impact the way businesses maintain their financial records. Indeed, AI is probably the most significant technological shift in both areas.

Money Meets AI

AI technology is constantly being improved to work more efficiently at lesser time and money.

Businesses that implement AI and machine learning have an edge over their competitors. As the capture and interpretation of transactional data are performed by software, our dependence on manual entries declines. With the help of advanced robo-advisors, which are becoming increasingly common in the financial industries, you can witness the optimization of your investments in real-time.

The role of AI technology in bookkeeping is diverse. With proper AI implementation, bookkeeping tasks such as invoice processing and bank coding get much easier.

However, to deploy AI in these ways, you need a two-pronged approach:

  1. The AI will make suggestions that can be accepted or rejected by the bookkeeper.
  2. Once trained, the AI can code the costs itself, with occasional feedback from bookkeepers.

Even the accounts payable process is affected by AI and machine learning, where the entire workflow, from invoice reading to data extraction, gets automated.

What Is AI? 

AI, a.k.a. machine intelligence, uses computer systems to execute tasks similar to the ones performed by humans, such as speech and visual recognition, language translation and even decision making.

For businesses, this means better use of their labour hours. Regular tasks such as data entry, e-mailing and billing can be automated to help employees devote their time to more important operations.

How Will AI Influence Bookkeepers?

AI has transformed many industries, including accounting and bookkeeping. Most transactions are tracked via computer software, and automatic payment systems are gaining in popularity.  The question is how necessary are bookkeepers when data entry and tracking software services can accurately do their work? What role do humans play in this sector?

Implementation of AI technology doesn’t necessarily mean the eradication of the workforce. Instead, it can complement their work.

Here’s how AI benefits accounting and bookkeeping:

  • Services Become Faster

Services become faster when human error and accompanying delays are virtually nullified. In bookkeeping, errors in computation can delay work by days. These can be avoided when you let artificial intelligence streamline the work.

  • Bookkeeper Roles Become More Diversified

Bookkeepers who implement AI technology can elevate themselves from simple data entry professionals into a more advisory role. They can help with business planning and increase the overall operational efficiency enjoyed by their clients. This becomes possible as AI becomes capable of analyzing data and thus providing an appropriate course of action for bookkeepers to follow.

  • It Demands That You Become More Tech-Savvy

As AI becomes ubiquitous, bookkeepers are forced to learn more about its functions and influence upon their industry to stay ahead of competitors. Hence, it pushes you towards bettering yourself professionally.

Future of AI in Bookkeeping: Will It Completely Take Over the Industry?

At the pace at which AI is developing, questions arise. To what extent will it control the bookkeeping industry? Will there come a time when humans are no longer required? Its future may be shaped by AI and machine learning, but humans will (hopefully) always have a place in it. Here’s why:

  • Human Oversight Is Essential to Running Any Technology

Irrespective of how highly automated the system, it will always require a human to operate it successfully. A skilled bookkeeper who is up to date with the latest technologies and understands AI software workflow will be able to provide the best services. While software errors are rare, bookkeepers must still review reports to ensure absolute accuracy.

  • Services Can’t Be Automated Entirely

The course of action and workflow can be automated only when AI software is fed relevant data. But the services provided by a human bookkeeper cannot be replaced. Technology cannot listen to clients’ feedbacks. It cannot build trust and loyalty between a company and its clients.

  • Conversations Are Important

Automated systems can only recite pre-programmed explanations to queries. Clients often want to talk to a human being, especially if they’re not satisfied with answers and require further explanations.

Technologies are constantly evolving and bookkeepers need to stay on top of those changes. However, AI technology will never be able to fully replace human beings. The best way to coexist alongside such technologies is to brush up on your technical skills and be consistently excellent with your services.

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