Not your Parents’ Job: How AI is Transforming the Accounting Profession
Though once considered a “boring” and “dull” career for left-brainers and mathletes, the accounting profession has transformed into an exciting career path chock-full of opportunities to be creative and innovative.
We know – that’s a bold statement. But, hear us out…
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the capability of computers to imitate intelligent human behaviour – has been a driving force of change for the accounting and finance professions in recent years. And, thanks to Ontario’s vibrant AI ecosystem, there are more opportunities than ever for emerging CPAs to be part of change.
From big tech, such as Google and Apple, to start-ups and incubators, there is a growing desire from tech companies to employ CPAs at all levels to not only help with their accounting needs, but also contribute to the development of new technology.
In fact, CPAs are integral to shaping and assessing various applications of AI. Thanks to the CPA skill set – their talents of processing large amounts of data and their big-picture thinking – CPAs are well-positioned to work alongside engineers and data scientists to develop cutting-edge AI applications.
They also play leading roles in AI-focused collaboration and innovations that create jobs and wealth, attract talent and investment, and keep Ontario at the forefront of global AI advances.
As for the application of AI on accounting-specific tasks, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) are the two most dominant technologies used, because of their ability to quickly analyze and categorize large amounts of data.
Further information about these applications, and other disciplines of AI can be found below:
Natural Language Processing (NLP):
NLP gives computers the ability to read, listen to and classify human words and phrases. NLP can extract and analyze language from within massive data sets of both structured (financial statements) and unstructured (emails, phone calls, social media) data. It’s what powers virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa.
Machine Learning (ML):
ML algorithms develop and improve themselves through observation and trial-and-error, similar to the way humans learn. After being trained, ML can learn on its own by recognizing patterns in data. It can make decisions based on the outcomes of similar situations it has observed before.
Robotics is the science and engineering that makes machines autonomously perform specific manual tasks. In industrial and commercial settings, robots are involved in assembly lines and, in Amazon’s warehouses, for transporting products from shelves to checkout. At home, robots like the Roomba can vacuum.
Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KRR):
KRR is a way for machines to represent and understand concepts, the relationships between concepts, and the rules in which concepts interact and behave. KRR is not about computers storing mass data, but about actually understanding what data means and what to do with it to draw conclusions.
Vision gives machines the ability to process, understand and categorize images and alphanumeric characters. Computer vision is used in facial recognition, in document analysis and fraud detection, in the identification and censoring of explicit or illegal content, for tracking objects, and in autonomous vehicles and robots.
Planning is the science of devising a hierarchical sequence of events to complete a predefined task, including also re-planning a sequence to account for unexpected variables. Planning currently has applications in production lines, construction, military and air campaigns, and robotics.
AI allows CPAs to focus more of their time developing richer insights, and less time on routine tasks. It means CPAs can do less of the repetitive work and spend more time developing insights and analyses.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW AI IS TRANSFORMING THE PROFESSION.