When managing other people's money, one can never be to careful. With modern cyber threats looming over every computer, it's not surprising that the accounting industry has shied away from adopting cutting-edge technology into their daily processes. Recently though as cyber security has tightened and new technologies have proven themselves, the industry has started adopting tech such as blockchain and AI to speed and automate manual processes, freeing up their team to work on strategic initiatives. This May, the Journal of Accountancy sat down with three industry experts, including our own Chief Cloud Officer, David Cieslak, to discuss how far the accounting profession has come with technology adoption, how far it needs to go, and some of the skills needed to get there.
One of the top technologies poised to make an impact on the accounting world is artificial intelligence. From machine-learning algorithms making tedious, repetitive processes more efficient, to automated analytics of qualitative data allowing CFOs to plan based on dynamic data models. One of the artificial intelligence solutions that has been making a strong impact in a sister industry is natural-language processing. In the insurance field a technology-progressive company, RiskGenius, has been developing a tool using natural-language processing to analyze insurance contracts and pull out all of the key information such as deductibles and coverage. If we applied this practice to the world of accounting, this technology could help accountants to automate the creation of financial contracts saving CPAs hours of time.
AI carries with it a realm of untapped potential for the accounting industry but are we adapting quickly enough? As much adoption of new software as we've seen over the past few years, the accounting industry still lags behind others in the integration of technology into their practices, preferring the tried and true over the new and innovative. So then how can accounting firms and CPAs push themselves into the future? Much of it is a shift in mindset. On a firm-wide level, everyone should be engaging with new technological advances and thinking about how those advances could help them be more productive and efficient with their time. They need to analyze existing processes and explore new ways to optimize them with available technologies.
For an individual CPA this may sound daunting and frankly a bit unnecessary. After all, you're an accountant, not an IT specialist, but as firms begin to embrace new technology the role of the accountant will begin to shift and it will be critical for CPAs to learn new skills to maintain their relevancy in the field. The key is to slowly build your new skill set brick by brick while the rest of the field is still catching up. Subscribe to industry technology publications like AccountingToday and Top Sage Resellers, and of course stay up to date with our blog by subscribing here.