The fourth industrial revolution has kicked in and at its heart is all things digital with a dollop of “smart”. We are talking about automation, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and more. While it is no more “news” how automation will change the way we work, travel, communicate, and so much more, et somehow, it fails to conjure up an image of robotic hands filing paperwork or interpreting accounting data.
New-age technologies are being developed as we speak and are most certainly also getting ready to pave their way into the field of accounting – a profession that has long relied primarily on the human skill and potential. Today, we already have technologies to help us with the time-consuming processes of manually entering, gathering, and analyzing the accounting data, and this is just the beginning.
But will AI, ML, RPA, and other modern technologies make professions such as Certified Public Accountants (CPA) obsolete? We think differently. If we take the current technological advancement into account, modern CPAs are nicely placed amid a technological transformation, which allows them to forge a partnership with the ongoing transit to automation to not only spur growth in the industry but also safeguard the veracity of the profession in an automated environment.
“Automation is not here to replace you; it is here to work alongside you, making you more – efficient, accurate, and rewarding.”
Now let us look at this statement in the CPA context for better understanding.
CPAs Are Not Robots, Robots Are Not CPAs
For all the wonders that technology has bestowed upon us, it is yet to deliver a replacement for human empathy and communication skills. Based on just those two accounts, you can say that CPAs have nothing to worry about their jobs. At least, not for now. Yes, the analytics and reporting can be taken over by the accounting software; but there still remains a myriad of accounting services that are yet to be “digitized.”
Whilst working with over 200+ CPAs worldwide, we at Datamatics understand the subtleties of client requirement and that building an interpersonal relationship with them is as essential as correct computation of the data. While most of the CPAs possess the former, they lack the technological acumen to meet the client requirement. Our rich history of working with CPAs of varying business nature presents us with the ability to narrate the technological power and interpersonal skills to aid our clients in making learned business decisions; from progress strategy to risk identification and pricing models.
We have worked with both – technologies and humans – and we can assure you one thing, technology can make CPAs’ work lives more accessible but cannot replace them.
RPA – The new weapon in CPAs’ Arsenal
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is not inherently intelligent, akin to other technologies. Any technological application is a set of instructions fed into a system designed to deliver a specific output for every set of instructions fed into it. As the instructions evolve, so does the technology behind them. And that essentially is what artificial intelligence is in a nutshell. All these talks of robotic invasion seem farfetched, at least for now (Sorry, Avenger’s fans, “The Age of Ultron” is just good cinematography).
Having said that, with the scope to improve this AI-powered RPA solutions, automation is a powerful weapon in modern CPA’s arsenal. And while you have it, you might as well make the most of it.
Here are a few of the everyday tasks that we have automated for increased precision, efficiency, and safety for our CPA clientele:
- High-Value Transaction Audit
- Data entry
- Invoice processing & verification
- Accounts receivable and payable
- Management of inventory
- Tax preparation & compliance
- Regulatory reporting & compliance
How can CPAs Meet the Challenge?
The first signs of automation in accounting can be dated back to 1907, when Herman Hollerith developed a punch-card machine to speed up the data handling for the U.S. Census. He took that punch-card concept to the private industry when he founded IBM. By 1928, the IBM tabulator was able to process 100 cards a minute.
The accounting practice of today has come a long way since then. However, for the CPAs to sustain the impending evolution in the accounting space, they must evolve themselves to stay relevant. Here is how we believe they can do so.
- Leverage Data Analytics – Modern CPAs need to adopt a data-centric approach to technology, should they intend to harness its power. Modern finance and accounting professionals are leveraging big data and analytics in their everyday business not only to solve everyday problems but also for developing strategies. It is about time you leverage the data analytics tools and resources to transform your team and your entire accounting function.
- Capitalize on Blockchain – Blockchain as a technology has spread way beyond its cryptocurrency roots. It is no more a solution to govern cryptocurrency transactions. Many industries as well as organizations are leveraging blockchain technology to reduce their annual audit costs and regulatory compliance costs. As a CPA, you must capitalize on the growth of blockchain.
- AI & ML-Driven Accounting Outsourcing Partner – There is no denying that the most cost-efficient and technologically advanced accounting and finance solution is to partner with a finance and accounting outsourcing partner. It not only bridges the technical gaps but also gives you ample time to equip yourself with the upcoming technologies. At Datamatics, we are poised to work with diverse businesses leveraging best-in-class technologies, including AI, ML, Cognitive Computing, and Cloud, to power our exceptional pool of resources for seamless delivery. You can leverage it all just in few clicks.
What is next?
The excitement that automation brings with it, in any field it forays into, is justified. We already have seen CPAs and accountants embracing the technology. More so than ever, the change in the accounting profession has shown promising signs. We believe it is time for the CPAs to expand their horizons through partnerships, learnings, and enjoy the fruits of the changes that technology will bestow upon us.