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ICYMI: Accountants should embrace artificial intelligence

Written on Jul 31, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Learning that your career field might soon be overtaken by robots is not a comforting feeling. But Joe Woodard, CEO of Woodard Companies, has found that his presentations on artificial intelligence usually result in a receptive response from CPAs.

That was certainly the feeling in the room last week at the Cleveland Accounting Show as Woodard presented “Rise of the Machines: Future of Accounting,” a look into the future impact AI will have on the accounting profession. Spoiler alert: Woodard says it will be a big one.

He attributes the positive CPA response to the knowledge that Richard and Daniel Susskind detail in their book “The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts,” which Woodard used for research for the majority of the presentation.

“They connect the technology to how we can leverage it today and how we can elevate the level of our practice tomorrow,” Woodard said.

The takeaway is that despite the impending tech change headed their way, CPAs have time to plan and prepare for it. Woodard says the big players developing AI, like Watson, IBM’s groundbreaking technology, are focusing on curing cancer, not on how to solve tax returns.

“We have an insulated period where we can monitor the incoming technology and form a plan for adaptation,” he said. “In the short term it’s dependent upon us, so I think CPAs are finding hope in it, it needs us as much as we need it.”

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