AI-powered accountants poised to elevate the industry – IT News Africa

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Generative AI has the power to revolutionize the accounting industry, elevate the role of accountants by automating repetitive workflows, and improve employee experience. However, with countless headlines denouncing the threat AI poses to job security, the idea of ​​businesses turning to the technology may well raise fears – particularly in industries where many processes manuals remain, like accounting.

One of the hottest questions being debated today is: Will ChatGPT and other forms of generative AI replace entire industries, like accounting, or, as we like to say at Sage, “elevate “human labor”?

Is generative AI poised to replace accountants?

Generative AI will have a profoundly disruptive impact on accounting and finance and force businesses to adopt new tools and greater automation. Its impact on the global economy is estimated $2.6 to $4.4 trillion in annual growth.

This growth adds to the $11-$17.7 trillion economic value already estimated for traditional AI. Although AI could automate as much 27% of jobsthis automation does not automatically translate into job losses.

This means that companies that best adopt AI will be able to give accounting staff higher value-added tasks, with greater productivity and likely greater job satisfaction, helping to retain and attract key talent at a time when highly skilled workers are in demand. in limited quantity.

The current opportunity to adopt generative AI

Standard, or so-called “narrow,” AI is already widely used in the accounting industry, from automating data processing tasks to identifying abnormal accounting transactions and entries.

Generative AI, however, represents a giant leap in capabilities: it has the power to advance the automation of simple tasks to the automation of entire workflows.

Large language models (LLMs), a form of generative AI, are trained on enormous amounts of textual content, including accounting standards and regulations, business cases and best practices, and even software documentation.

This training also teaches LLMs to understand language patterns and structures, leading to the great advancement in AI we are currently witnessing. Where narrow AI operates within tightly defined workflows constrained by meticulous rules, generative AI can understand human-like instructions and determine the full set of activities required to fulfill a request. His ability to generate computer code and interact with software translates this understanding into action.

Digital assistants powered by LLM

LLM-based digital assistants will transform the way accounting professionals interact with technology by replacing limiting, hard-to-learn user interfaces that require predefined menus and complex data entry forms with simple human language interaction. Imagine simplifying work processes into an instruction you could ask of a human.

Help with workload

Not only will this improved interaction increase productivity, but it will also expand the scope of work an accountant can perform. And, as these digital assistants become more and more capable, they will also become expert resources for understanding and applying accounting standards.

When these capabilities are added to AI’s ability to perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks like processing invoices or reconciling accounts, the accounting industry will rise to provide higher value-added services, such as strategic advice on financial planning and capital allocation.

The accountants we speak with are positive: they see opportunities where most see threats. They are optimistic that the combination of generative AI and forward thinking will expand the accountant’s role as a trusted advisor to businesses.

The value of human responsibility

Accounting is a trusted industry. A trust that is based on companies’ confidence in the audits and advice provided by accountants. Automated processes can be implemented for routine tasks, but responsibility for results, an essential part of accounting, will always rest with humans.

AI is not infallible and can produce inaccurate results, called hallucinations, where generative AI algorithms produce factually incorrect answers. Knowing the limitations of generative AI is almost as important as knowing its capabilities, and businesses need to be aware that it is not the technology alone, but how it is integrated and managed, that will produce the best results.

For accounting, this means finding the areas where AI automation will have the most positive impact on workflow and employee experience.

Enabling accountants to deliver more strategic value

Equip accountants with the power of LLMs and they will have an invaluable, hyper-efficient research assistant capable of analyzing enormous amounts of information and structuring coherent, professional presentations of the results.

This AI assistant will enable accounting professionals to deliver greater strategic value by improving both the quantity and quality of decision-making. The same analytical skill can also recognize and plot trends over time for enhanced forecasting and planning capabilities, such as identifying recurring patterns in cash flows so accounting teams can prepare for spikes and at troughs in activity.

With 47% of financial directors Saying their top priorities are building predictive models and scenario analysis capabilities caused by ongoing economic uncertainty, the ability to produce in-depth forecasts linked to broader market trends will make businesses more resilient in the face of economic disruption .

Addressing the Skilled Labor Shortage in the Accounting Sector

Prolonged labor shortages and the Great Resignation are putting increased pressure on already overworked finance teams, with more than half of the world’s accounting professionals are looking to leave their current company in their next career move. This problem occurs in businesses all over the world.

Accounting and finance managers face the challenge of attracting new talent but also ensuring they retain existing staff. Here, generative AI can help kill two birds with one stone by improving employee experience.

In a recent survey, 63% of workers those who integrated AI into their daily tasks reported increased satisfaction and enjoyment in their work, meaning that integrating generative AI tools could make an accounting career more fulfilling for industry professionals and more attractive to potential talents.

Accounting will lead AI’s elevation of human work

The accounting industry plays an important role in society and the global economy as a trusted provider to markets and as a trusted resource for financial guidance. As accountants, we have the opportunity to not only elevate human work, but to elevate the entire accounting industry.

We must deploy new AI technologies, balancing pace and determination with caution and humility. In this new era of generative AI, companies that can effectively adopt and integrate AI will be the winners.

By By Aaron Harris, Sage CTO

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