From burger flipping to science fiction nemeses to some use cases we would not like to describe here, robots have continued to change the way businesses and the world operates. That said, it’s long been a conversation in the accounting world on what impact AI may have on professionals. As a soon-to-be leading voice of the controller world, we’re here to dispel the myths and help you succeed.

Answering the Dreaded Question, “Will AI Replace Accountants?”

Yes and no. AI will likely replace certain jobs in the accounting department. Knowing this, controllers need to ask themselves which jobs are being replaced and if replacing them is really such a bad thing.

It’s Hard to Find Good Help—Harder to Fill Boring Jobs

First, look at the time it takes to fill a job. The talk of an accounting talent crisis has been around since the moments we started to rebound from the recession. If finding talent was hard in 2013, it hasn’t exactly gotten any easier with the unemployment rate even smaller.

As we will discuss in part two of our controllers’ guide to AI in accounting, the jobs that will be replaced aren’t exactly high-profile ones. These are the jobs that demand an accountant price tag but rarely an accounting skillset. Most of the jobs that would be replaced are error prone, time consuming, and duplicitous.

People Aren’t Robots

Second, look at your staff. Despite what the sales staff may think, your people aren’t number crunching robots.

Your people provide insights. They think critically. They can take numbers and provide context and direction.

There’s a personal touch provided by your staff, and a recent CPA Trendlines interview with Todd Shapiro covered this. In his interview, he noted that there’s always going to be people who don’t understand accounting, and having a robot present the numbers in an accounting-friendly way still won’t do much for the rest of your business.

“AI can only do so much […], the analysis can be done by a bot, just the same as a person. It’s the interpretation and communication in a way that brings insight, and I think that we’re a long way from the computer actually providing the insight, interpretation, and explanation. You’re always going to have individuals who are not financially astute, so you’re always going to have CPAs, accountants, who will have to interpret the information and present it in a clear and concise format. What they (the humans) won’t be doing is the processes.”

Shapiro goes on to note that, “despite being super-fast with the numbers, [AI] will still need someone to analyze and steer the focus. At this point, AI cannot interpret the context in results.”

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Follow The Controllers Council

No matter what AI has in store for your business, it pays to study how it may impact your business, learn what roles it will take, and adapt to the changes. Over the next few weeks, we will explore the use cases for AI and the skills you need to know. Be sure to follow us for all the latest.

Read part 1 here: Controllers’ Guide to AI Part 1