Automation, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), the fourth industrial revolution – we have all heard that more times than we care to count. That automation will change the way we work, travel, communicate Etc. is no more “news.” Yet somehow, all those terms fail to conjure up an image of robotic hands filing paperwork or interpreting accounting data. And that is fine. That is how automation has been presented to us for years now. It is either a robot handing you an ice cream or performing complex surgery, both of which, by the way, are significant use cases of automation. But that is not to say that the new-age technologies that are being developed as we speak will not pave their way into the accounting profession. Many of them already have. We already have technologies to help us with the time-consuming processes of manually entering, gathering, and analysing the accounting data. And that is just the beginning.
Technologies like AI, Machine Learning, RPA, Etc. will transform the accounting profession as we know it. But will they make professions like Certified Public Accountants obsolete?
We do not think so. At least nowhere shortly. If truth be told, looking at the current technological scenario, modern CPAs are nicely placed amid a technological transformation, which allows them to forge a partnership with the ongoing automation transformation 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, & rewarding.”
Let us dissect that statement for better understanding.
CPAs are not Robots (and vice versa)
For all the wonders that technology has bestowed upon us, it is yet to deliver a replacement for human empathy & 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 & reporting can be taken over by the accounting software’s; there remains a myriad of accounting services that are yet to be “digitized.”
Whilst working with over 200+ CPAs worldwide, we at Datamatics understand that understanding the subtleties of the client requirement & build an interpersonal relationship with them is as essential as correct computation of client 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 possess the technological power & interpersonal skills to aid our clients to make learned business decisions from progress strategy to risk identification to pricing models.
We have worked with both – technologies & 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. None of the technologies are. Any technological application is a set of instruction fed into a system designed to deliver a specific output for every set of instruction fed into it. As the instructions evolve, so does the technology behind them. 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 fan, “The Age of Ultron” is just good cinematography).
Having said that, with the scope to improve this AI-powered RPA (Robotic Process Automation) 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 task that we have automated for increased precision, efficiency, & 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 & 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 the cryptocurrency roots it has. It is no more a solution to govern cryptocurrency transactions. Many industries are leveraging Blockchain to reduce their annual audit cost as well as an organization’s annual audit 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 & 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 Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cognitive Computing, and Cloud, to power our exception 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 are 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.