Why artificial intelligence won't spell the end for accountants

Accountants across the globe, like their colleagues in many other professions, may feel a tad insecure at the moment, as disruptive technologies and automation continue to make disciplines obsolete and shape the way we work. These technologies are no longer confined to manufacturing, but are beginning to redefine the knowledge economy as well. Machine learning, mobile and automated workflow solutions are having a huge transformative effect on the accounting landscape.

The disruption conversation isn't anything new - it has been going on for centuries, from the advent of the printing press and the camera obscura to the atom bomb and the personal computer. The good news for accountants is that sophisticated systems do not necessarily mean that they will find themselves out of work.

The accountant who can move beyond mere data capturing and bean counting is well placed to take advantage of the power of these new systems. As a trusted advisor who is able to see the bigger picture and contribute to strategy, the finance executive can leave routine executional tasks to the machines and concentrate on innovation and creative solutions. Clients expect more from their accountants, which entails moving away from traditional compliance services to a deeper understanding of their businesses.

While it can't be ruled out entirely, the experts say that it will take a while before robots are able to match the human capacity for creativity. This evolution from data collection to analysis is a hot topic of discussion in many boardrooms at present. The human interaction between client and provider is another function that will not easily be replaced by robotics. The accountant who is amenable to change and is willing to adapt to a more cerebral and less menial function is the future of the profession.