With all the news out there about AI (artificial intelligence) some accounting professionals may consider this tech a threat to their livelihood. In fact, there’s quite a bit of speculation that AI may be extremely helpful for any data-driven industries, including accounting, that may lead to reduced requirements in the workforce.
AI is able to automate calculations and help to simplify the complexities that only professionals in the accounting field could have handled up until now. However, there are many who wonder if this efficiency and comfort will come at a serious cost in decline of jobs. Or, whether an accounting pro can find a way around it and remain a protective part of the overall system.
Technology, Accounting and a Bit of History
Thanks to the ever-changing technologies that have been seen, there have been a number of changes in the accounting industry. There was a time when the introduction of the electronic calculator was a true “revolution” in the accounting industry. Computer-based software began to offer electronic spreadsheets in the latter part of the 1960s offering software such as LANPAR. When the versions of this software, including SuperCalc and VisiCalc came to the market, the calculator actually became a thing of the past.
In the later part of the 1980s, with new steadfast accounting software being introduced, spreadsheet software began to take a beating as the actual manual execution of several accounting processes wasn’t required. QuickBooks, Peachtree, etc. are examples of some of the most popular accounting software that has changed the way accounting is used in businesses; however, the job has continued to grow.
Later, as the internet continued to grow in both popularity and functionalities, the cloud-hosted accounting software brought about cross-device and mobility usability challenges and began to untangle the overall integration with repository applications, CRM, ERP, and others. All of this is smoothing out the information sharing present between various business-specific applications that reduce overall human dependence, even for data entry. This is further supported by the overall growth and popularity of e-transactions. With this type of simplicity, some have predicted that business owners may be able to manage accounting tasks without having to hire experts.
The result that history has shown is that technology is continually challenging the profession of accounting. However, the jobs in the accounting industry are still growing. Why? The total growth in accounting jobs, even with the advancements in technology is due to two reasons:
Research and development into new tech
Reforms in the skills to use the newest tech and to create a tech-dependent task
The Impact of AI on Accounting Jobs
Both of the reasons that were mentioned above are dependent on the objective of adding value to the entire system.
Today, AI is promising to do that without the intervention of humans. According to a recent report, AI has the capabilities of automating almost 86 percent of all activities that are performed by auditing clerks’ accountants and bookkeepers. The actual report suggested that automation with accounting activities actually costs less with automation via machine-learning, software, and computers. For up to 86 percent of all accounting tasks, AI is thought to be a profit-making and cost-effective solution. While this is true, only about 14 percent of the functions actually require any human attention. What can help to add more positives to this situation is that the new tech brings about new assignments.
Experts are Taking on Job Prospects in the Accounting Sector
In addition to the words of the experts, there are actually statistics that support job growth in the accounting sector. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has actually listed auditor and accountant occupations on the “Most New Jobs” list with an expected rate of growth to exceed 10 percent. This means that between the years of 2016 and 2026 there are going to be more than 139,900 new jobs. The factors that have fallen in favor of this growth, however, do not indicate the job profile is going to remain the same. What bookkeepers, auditors, and accountants along with other professionals in the field today are doing is much different from what was being done just a decade ago. They are not going to be doing the same thing in another decade, either.
Conclusion and the Vital Challenge
There’s no question that survival has a number of challenges, and with the accounting industry, this is no exception. To stay a productive asset in this industry that is experiencing rapid changes, professionals have to increase their skill set. There are plenty of opportunities in the accounting sector, but it is the type of opportunities that are going to wind up changing.
Refining potential: An accounting professional can adopt automation for repeatable and redundant tasks to help save time and help more clients. This process will minimize the total billable hours and help those in this field reach higher levels of productivity.
Be the innovator: The accounting industry has always been one that is solution-oriented. Newer technologies can show problems and ask for newer solutions. Additionally, someone with a relevant education and experience in the industry can help to innovate these types of solutions.
Driving new solutions: AI is set to simplify operations but understanding data is still an accounting pro's forte. Making various decisions that are based on data will create a higher demand for new accounting professionals.