Is AI leading us to a new frontier or is it the final instrument of work force depletion?
However, the question still remains whether this new technology is a cause for concern or an unprecedented opportunity for all financial professionals?
Automation implies the elimination of all manual labour through the use of automatic controls that ensure accuracy and quality. It’s through this process, that several jobs are threatened with obsolescence; a phenomenon now known as technological unemployment.
In 2015, an American media organisation NPR’s calculator predicted the sectors that are the most susceptible to computerisation and that accountants and auditors have a 95% chance of losing their jobs losing their jobs. Automation is already occurring at the staff level, beginning to take over tedious tasks such as data entry and bookkeeping, but soon will inch its way up the corporate ladder and begin to automate higher level accounting positions.
This AI takeover will see departments downsized and employees left to focus on more strategic initiatives instead of repetitive or process-driven tasks.
However, let’s not forget the complexities involved in the accountancy and finance roles, just like every other profession it has evolved over time.
Organisations look to their finance team to provide strategic and cost saving guidance, an interpersonal capability that A.I cannot grasp.
The recent report “The Robots are Coming” written by Deloitte, suggests that although up to 56% of finance roles have a high possibility for automation, it may also have an immense strategic value to the profession, as historically, technology has eliminated some jobs and created others. They claim Artificial Intelligence (AI) will improve efficiency and increase the quality of the profession, allowing us to ask a lot more questions and gain a greater level of insight.
Till Leopold, the project lead on WEF’s Employment, Skills and Human Capital initiative argues that “as new technologies arrive, they will have a fundamental impact on many of the systems that we already have in place.” This indicates that both upcoming and established accountants need to focus on re-skilling, a responsibility that employers and governments need to be more proactive in and ensure workforces are ready to adapt to more regular demands for change.
Despite all the whispers of obsoletion, the digitisation of jobs is still in the very early stages, even for companies that are believed to be at the forefront of this epidemic. Automation may bring greater opportunities for the profession, but the benefits of this process are still yet to be fully proven.
Artificial Intelligence is what you make it and at the end of the day, to maintain relevance, both professional and trainee accountants should be prepared to enhance their knowledge of new models for business, as adaptation to business expectations is always key.
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