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Automation: The future of accounting?

13/09/2018

The rise of automation in accountancy is unstoppable. A survey conducted by AccountancyAge, for example,  revealed that 60% of 250 Association of Accounting Technicians members believe that “basic accountancy processes will be fully automated within the next five years”. 89% of the same AAT members also stated that “advances in technology are a real positive for the accountancy profession, creating new opportunities for them.”

Overwhelmingly, then, practising accountants embrace automation and the introduction of AI to their industry. But are they overly convinced of the benefits? Could their unwavering confidence be misplaced?

Helping, not replacing, humans

There is little doubt that AI and automation will allow accountants to save a great deal of time by assigning repetitive and time-consuming tasks to be handled solely by intelligent, automated systems.

Microsoft’s powerful AI-driven financial solutions, including the cloud-based Dynamics 365 Business Central, have already demonstrated the benefits that automation can bring to businesses, including producing greater reporting accuracy and the handling of repetitive, time-consuming tasks, leaving workers with more time for engagement with their clients. These are benefits that will only increase tenfold as the technology becomes even more refined. Indeed, 75% of the respondents to AccountancyAge’s survey felt automation technology has already benefitted them by freeing up time to analyse accounts and give business advice to clients.

As stated by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an interview with Bloomberg in 2017, clearly automation has the potential to fulfil its ultimate purpose: to “help, not replace humans.”

Responsible modernisation

Despite general positivity about automation (and a waning malaise about machines stealing jobs), it is also important that a degree of restraint is applied when a company opts to replace its long-standing processes in favour of an automated future.

A cautionary tale occurred in April 2018 when TSB experienced an issue when upgrading their banking system to a new automated-service, leaving 1.9 million customers without service. This, of course, was an exceptional case, but being too lax about automation can produce problems of its own.

Providing effective, reliable support

For Microsoft partners such as City Dynamics, effective and reliable support for a company as it undertakes this move towards the cloud and automation is imperative. We ensure that before beginning any project to transfer a client from on-premise to a cloud solution, our client is fully briefed and prepared.

Once our client is ready to push the button, automating their essential processes through a new solution that we have provided, we are always on hand to support and troubleshoot any issue as it arises – crucially, before it causes disruption to their customers.

In other words – with our guidance – you will be safe in the knowledge that you made the right call; to responsibly embrace the future.

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