The face of the accounting industry is changing. Cloud computing opened up the door for automation and mobility, and now with the emergence of blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), the way you handle your accounting is never going to be the same. These new tools can make a positive impact on business bottom line, especially for smaller accounting firms, alleviating labor-intensive, data heavy tasks and opening up time for more client interaction and strategy. But before integrating these new tools, it is important to first understand the how and why behind them and how they can help your business.
To get you started down the path of integrating this new technology, below are some of your initial questions answered:
What is AI and Blockchain Anyway?
Blockchain and AI are often referenced together as accounting industry disruptors. One thing to note is that they are different technologies that impact different aspects of daily tasks. Let’s start by looking at a definition of each.
Blockchain is a secure, distributed ledger. When a transaction takes place in a blockchain ledger, it is not only updated in real time, but the transaction is closed instantly upon completion. This means that using blockchain can increase the speed of monthly reconciliations, since there are no outstanding transactions, and prevent anyone from going back and making adjustments to something that happened in the past. Reports and audits are more accurate, and pulling them is faster, allowing teams to do more each month.
Boiled down, AI is using computer programming to do large, labor intensive tasks that are currently done by humans. A good example is using AI to review and analyze large volumes of data. AI can cut tasks that would normally take weeks down to a few days and sometimes even a few hours.
Accountants are ready for this new technology, and it’s only a matter of time before the use of blockchain and AI will be a natural part of any accounting firm. A recent survey of 700 accountants across the globe by Sage found that:
“Eighty-six percent of accountants say they would be happy for technology to make the admin elements of their job invisible, so they can focus more on their clients and building their practice.”
How will AI or Blockchain help me?
The possibilities for AI and blockchain in the accounting field are endless. But, as with any new technology, it is only as good as your current process. Start by evaluating your current workflow to determine where and how AI or blockchain can help you and your team.
AI is often integrated into firms of all sizes to help with data analysis. For example, think of the time saved at year-end if a program could pull, compile, and analyze all the reports, leaving only the final decision making to you and your team.
How do I get started?
Start by getting the education you need on the “how” and “what” behind these tools from industry experts. Attend Accounting Today’s Blockchain, AI and emerging technologies for your firm webinar, sponsored by Concur and separate the hype from the reality on these industry disruptors.
Getting the correct background information can make all the difference in how successfully you integrate AI and blockchain into your organization.