In the accounting industry, there’s no topic hotter than Artificial Intelligence (AI). The debate is fuelled by a cocktail of uncertainty, apprehension and sometimes outright opposition from accountants to the inevitable changes AI will (and already is) bringing. There’s excitement too, about its benefits.

There are multiple ways in which AI will greatly benefit the accounting industry, providing it with a uniquely-intelligent arsenal of automated tools and resources. Whilst some fear that AI could spell the end of the human-led accounting industry as we know it, embracing AI could, in fact, revitalise the industry and put an unprecedented level of power back into the hands of practicing accountants.

Providing a reliable answer to the Making Tax Digital problem

As we recently covered in our latest MTD blog, automation could be the perfect answer to the many regulatory changes set to be introduced by HMRC’s MTD initiative; set to come into force in April 2019. What many accountants and others within the financial services industry fail to realise is that AI has the potential to handle many of the repetitive, time-consuming tasks that limit an individual’s ability to handle the more important client-facing processes that drive their business.

Providing an increased level of transparency is a major focus of Microsoft’s accounting software solutions, such as Dynamics GP, Dynamics 365 and their latest cloud-based financial solution Dynamics 365 Business Central. All of these products offer unprecedented clarity around financial processes, data and activity. Automated reports handled by AI-powered reporting tools such as Power BI provide end-users with a real-time, highly accurate data and analysis on all the information held within their solution, a key requirement of the MTD initiative.

Increasing the task efficiency where it matters most

Another of the major benefits of AI for accountants is its labour-saving capability. Automated financial solutions provide end-users with the option to relegate less important, tedious administrative tasks to specifically constructed AI workflows. This frees them up to increase their involvement in the ‘human’ aspects of their job, such as engaging with their clients. All of Microsoft’s Dynamics solutions support the integration of a vast range of Dynamics user-created apps, available for free, through the PowerApps store.

Powerful tools such as Microsoft Flow allow for tasks and processes to be automatically handled using AI. A good example is general ledger reconciliation, a universal practice for accountants that can be fully automated through Microsoft Flow. Automating these functions allows accountants to utilise their time more effectively, spending time nurturing important business relationships and engaging with their clients.

What to expect from the future of AI and accounting

As the power and potential of AI continues to grow, its ability to support and promote a business’ growth is limited only by the imagination of those implementing it.

The Microsoft PowerApps store’s continually growing number of user-created apps will continue to provide end-users of Microsoft solutions with new and innovative ways of incorporating AI into their accounting and financial practices. We can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.

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