CAPE TOWN – The growing demand for accurate, effective and convenient business support tools has seen a rise in solution-driven innovations from payment, banking and budgeting applications, to accounting desktop solutions.
Now, in the age of artificial intelligence (AI), businesses of all sectors and sizes can access technology that frees up professional accountants and business owners from spending hours upon hours on everyday financial and accounting tasks.
This is according to Brandon Wilson, director of marketing – Global Expansion at QuickBooks, who notes that as AI continues to pick up momentum in the accounting space, professional accountants have an opportunity to add more value to their clients and take on a more advisory role.
“Fortunately, AI isn’t going to be replacing human accountants, at least not any time in the near future. AI is an exciting prospect for small business accountants because it allows them to focus on their knowledge-based duties, leaving the repetitive tasks to the robots.
“Rather than wasting time with tedious tasks such as data entry, accountants can focus their efforts on all the work that requires a human touch, such as analysing and interpreting data and using that information alongside human intuition to make educated decisions on how the company should proceed.
“Additionally, AI has the potential to make accountants more efficient and productive,” Wilson said.
Reaffirming the growth potential of AI in accounting, Vice-President and Principal Analyst at leading global technology research firm Atherton Research, Jean Baptiste Su, has noted that research on the future of accounting highlights that – by 2020 – accounting, tax, payroll, auditing and banking tasks will likely be fully automated using AI-based technologies.
So why should South Africa’s SMEs, big corporates and accountants tap into the power of AI? Wilson shares the top four ways that incorporating AI will advance financial processes:
- Makes accounting basics accessible. Not everyone has a head for figures, but machines do. So, let them crunch the numbers for you. Online accounting tools, such as QuickBooks Online, use AI capabilities to alleviate your workload by limiting repetitive tasks, and can help you make smarter financial decisions.
- Improves efficiencies and delivery turnaround. AI can also perform large-scale tasks that would be virtually impossible for humans to complete in a timely manner.
- Increases accuracy. In a traditional bookkeeping setting, accounting mistakes may go unnoticed. AI can detect errors immediately, ensuring that your books are always accurate. Machines may also be able to provide real-time financial insights, which often take accountants extra time and effort to discover.
- Improves compliance. AI can detect inaccuracies and flag improper submissions for removal or human approval. This real-time auditing would be quite tedious for human accountants. Using machine learning, AI can learn the company’s policies and analyse data in bulk to ensure that there are no discrepancies.
Leading the way in transforming the accounting sector and encouraging the industry to welcome AI and - in turn - advance their financial processes, the QuickBooks range of solutions is continuously growing to include more mobile apps, customisable reports and cloud accounting.
In South Africa, QuickBooks solutions are being developed to act as intelligent resources to guide business decisions – like a finance-savvy alternative to the popular virtual assistants produced by global tech giants: Google, Apple and Amazon.
“AI helps to solve a lot of the day-to-day challenges encountered when running a small business. It enables you to work better, smarter, and more efficiently in so many ways – and is now more accessible than ever,” Wilson said.
– BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE