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Automate Tasks, Not Jobs: The Impact of AI on Modern Accounting

Though it’s often viewed as a threat to job security, automation is quickly taking on an important role in a range of industries. Now, it’s poised to disrupt another field: accounting – and AP professionals aren’t quite sure what to think.

Due to the intricacies of the profession, some accountants may doubt the viability of automating important duties or introducing new tech into their workflow.

But the good news is that automation can simplify many tasks, making way for more in-depth and creative work. By embracing automation, accounting and AP professionals can hand off tedious busywork and shift their focus to larger targets. 

Why Is Everyone Afraid of Automation?

People often assume automation will take away job opportunities, but the reality of that varies greatly between industries and job types. We’ve seen automation reshape various industries – from manufacturing to retail to professional services – both hurting and helping the workforce in different ways.

Naturally, people hesitate when handing over important work to the machines. However,

there are already plenty of instances of automation making a positive difference for businesses and service professionals. For example, consumer-facing businesses across many industries have embraced AI for its usefulness in customer communication. The Bank of America estimates that AI will boost the economy by between $14 trillion and $33 trillion. 

Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the accounting industry will grow by 10% by 2026. Even so, many accounting professionals are concerned — both about keeping their jobs and learning how to handle the new tech. In order to be successful, anyone who is interested in accounting or already working in the field will have to embrace automation.

So, let’s explore how automation will impact the field of accounting.

How Does Automation Benefit Accounting Professionals?

1. Greater Security with Cloud Accounting

In this day and age, cloud accounting is no longer optional, it’s the future of the profession. With more and more businesses moving their information to the cloud for secure and convenient storage, accounting and AP professionals need to be familiar with and comfortable using cloud technology. 

Clients expect financial professionals to use software that offers protection against vulnerability and intrusion. Not only do cloud-storage solutions help safeguard sensitive information, but they also make it possible to automatically backup large amounts of data.

2. Data-Driven Decision-Making

Technology can also be used to process data more efficiently than humanly possible. Accounting automation will be able to manage large amounts of data, quickly find key information, and identify patterns in it. All of this gives a financial professional a better chance of making good decisions for their clients.

Financial team members will use technology and their expertise to make decisions. They will be able to work on tasks that require them to fully utilize their knowledge.

For instance, financial controllers will use technology to anticipate potential problems before they occur, rather than simply detecting them after the fact. They will also be able to predict future revenue and guide their company towards better financial decisions, which should lead to better performance for the entire company.

3. Increased Speed and Precision

Automation systems will be in place to provide more room for focus, deep work, and strategy. This will result in more favorable outcomes than before.

To understand this more clearly, let’s look at how AI is increasing speed and accuracy in the medical field without doctors and nurses losing their jobs. One example is the use of automation and AI in breast cancer detection. While traditional mammograms result in false-positives for half of the women tested annually over a ten year period, AI can perform the same test 30 times faster than doctors and with 99% accuracy. AI doesn’t replace doctors; it just makes their jobs easier and allows them to produce more accurate diagnoses. 

Similarly, accounting and AP professionals will directly benefit from the fact that AI can speed up data processing and smooth out their workflow by automating busywork and repetitive tasks. This allows them to be more productive and efficient. 

For example, accounts payable involves clerical tasks, like tracking and verifying data, that have the potential to be automated by software. By automating repetitive AP tasks, you get all of that time to work on more important aspects of your job. Of course, accounting professionals will still be necessary to analyze, make conclusions and decisions, work with technology, and more.

Even with automation, the industry needs unique perspectives. Although demand for certain entry-level jobs might decline, nothing will replace humans as a crucial component of the field. 

How to Deal with Automation as an Accounting Professional

If you’re feeling uncertain about the impact of emerging technology in the field of accounting, take a step back and focus on the benefits. Remember that, above all, automation is designed to handle your most time-consuming tasks, so you can do your job better than ever.

The best approach is to embrace automation and make an effort to learning about it before it impacts your organization. Being proactive will make the transition easier for you. Aim to improve your knowledge of accounting automation and learn how to use and interact with it properly. 

Automation can be a bit confusing, but it’s here to stay. Future-proof your career by filling in any gaps in your knowledge or skills before the changes arrive. Becoming an expert on accounting automation will make you a more interesting candidate to potential employers and a more valuable professional, too.

Kristina Perunicic is a freelance writer who covers business operations, growth, and finance. She works with Stampli, a leading solution for AP automation and invoice management.

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