By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
While ChatGPT might seem intimidating, there’s never been a better time for accounting professionals to understand what this technology can do.
“Give it a try,” said Yibo (James) Zhang, CPA, PhD, assistant professor in the department of accountancy at Miami University. “And if you don't like it this year, it doesn't mean you won’t like it next year. Because it's going to improve over time.”
For those unfamiliar with ChatGPT, Zhang compared it to using a chatbot on any website, except ChatGPT is a more robust version that’s capable of answering more complex questions.
While some might be hesitant to use ChatGPT, businesses are already looking into how they can leverage the technology to get ahead of competitors. That means accountants need to be prepared to offer advice and strategy surrounding the tool.
OSCPA has partnered with Miami University on a survey to get an early sense of members’ adoption and opinions of ChatGPT as a tool in the profession. These insights will eventually help with technology upskilling efforts.
ChatGPT also brings into question intuition versus data when it comes to decision-making, Zhang said.
“We're entering a turf war now,” he said. “The people who trust intuition might say something isn’t possible, but the data tells you that you could do it.”
Like any software, Zhang said ChatGPT will not be perfect, and professionals should still exercise judgment.
“We have to accept that for any application, such as Excel, if you plug in the wrong formula and it gives you the wrong number, then you have to use your judgment to decide whether or not to accept the answers,” he said.
While it’s good to use caution with any new technology, Zhang said it won’t benefit anyone to avoid ChatGPT or potentially have legislation limiting the use of the tool. Instead, it’s better to focus on how it can help us.
“It's going to fundamentally change how we process accounting information,” Zhang said. “How we send emails, how we organize ideas and how we provide recommendations to clients. We will eventually rely on its intelligence to provide us with recommendations. And that's the best thing ChatGPT can do for us.”