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Podcast: Is AI’s relationship with accounting a happy marriage or tense war?

Written on Feb 28, 2019

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

To stay relevant, the profession needs to know how to leverage developing technologies like artificial intelligence. But how much the average accountant today truly needs to understand AI might be up for debate.

WatsonR“This might be a contrarian point of view,” warned Ryan Watson, co-founder of Upsourced Accounting. “But not that much.”

Watson joined us on the most recent episode of The State of Business podcast to discuss just how knowledgeable accounting professionals need to be when it comes to AI. Do you have to be an expert to be successful?

Not quite yet, in Watson’s opinion. He said it’s unrealistic for most businesses to implement many of the advanced AI technologies available, and many accounting practices are still tackling cloud technology.

“I think AI will have a monumental impact on our industry,” he said. “But truly most of the accountants I work with or meet at conferences are still wrapping their arms mechanically on how to implement cloud. They are several steps behind artificial intelligence.”

He suggested focusing on your own technology strategy and how to best leverage the cloud.

“Think about setting up the things as a firm within an automatable process, because ultimately that will be the stakes to implement AI in the future. And that should be the focus,” he said. “Not, ‘How do I actually go out and buy AI?’”

The fear about accountants losing their jobs over developing AI can also be exaggerated, Watson said. Instead of thinking this could spell doom for accounting’s future, instead consider it as a partnership that benefits everyone. Although some processes that are easily automated will be, you should prepare to focus on the more thoughtful aspects of your work. That’s something machines cannot offer.

Listen to the complete episode available now, and if you’re in the mood for more tech podcasts check out our episode on how to use blockchain to add business value or watch video from Ryan Watson on the topic.

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