AI in Accounting: How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technology Has Changed the Industry

Corporate accounting has long been driven by standard policies and procedures. But today, forward-thinking companies are updating their processes through automation. Modern advances in AI have made accounting faster and less error-prone – not to mention easier to scale. These advantages are part of the reason why – according to Forbes – a number of routine accounting processes are likely to be AI-based by the year 2020.

What Tasks Can Be Improved With Accounting AI?

Artificial intelligence is already capable of handling several common tasks, such as manual data entry and invoice classification. But, the more intelligent that technologies become, the larger the projected role of AI in the accounting area.

Artificial Intelligence for Accounts Payable

For corporate accountants who oversee outgoing payments, AI can help streamline invoice approvals, exception handling, audits, and GL coding.

Artificial intelligence allows technology to process documents the same way that humans do (although these technologies rely on behind-the-scenes configuration rather than natural intelligence). Their algorithms make them perfect for collecting and validating invoices, as well as matching to their corresponding purchase orders and receipts.

In the past, AP automation programs were only capable of reading invoices if they knew exactly where each piece of information was going to be located. This made their application somewhat limited. But, today’s programs have become much more intuitive.

Thanks to machine learning, computers now have the ability to:

  • Recognize patterns
  • Remember data for future applications
  • Learn from decisions made in similar circumstances
  • “Understand” and replicate tasks performed by human operators

As a result, accounting technologies are becoming more effective at validating transactions, matching quantities and prices, and determining which transactional documents require exception handling.

Similarly, robotics in accounts payable can streamline quantity conversions and tax calculations using information that’s already in a database – no need for an employee to figure this all out manually. And, if there’s an invoice that needs to be reviewed by a human, workflow-enabled programs can immediately send that document where it needs to go.

Artificial Intelligence in Accounts Receivable

Automated intelligence makes it easier for accountants to manage incoming payments as well.

For instance, if a customer submits a single payment for multiple invoices or sends a check that doesn’t seem to correspond with an existing transaction, AI can search for similarities to help sort out the issue. As a result, accountants can correct problems much more quickly, without having to reach out to the customer for clarification.

Artificial Intelligence in Corporate Auditing

Every accounting department has to invest resources into audit preparation, whether they’re paying a third-party or employing an auditor in house. This helps companies demonstrate proper accounting practices and regulatory compliance.

What’s typically a long, drawn-out process (and an expensive one at that) can be almost fully automated. Computer programs can be used to locate sample transactional documents, and in some cases, even deliver those documents right to the auditor. And because AI helps errors from occurring in the first place, reconciling financial records becomes much less of a burden.

In the future, audits themselves may even become fully automated. As AI continues to develop, accountants may be able to rely on computer-driven risk models and the immediate detection of fraudulent behavior patterns. But until the accuracy of those processes becomes much more reliable, human auditors will still be responsible for manual reviews.

Will AI Replace Accountants?

For all the excitement surrounding artificial intelligence, there’s also an undercurrent of uncertainty. Corporate accountants – and the companies that employ them – tend to wonder how AI is going to change the workforce.

One thing that most experts agree on: automation is not going to make accountants obsolete. It will, however, have an impact on their day-to-day responsibilities.

With artificial intelligence systems, routine tasks that used to take hours can instead be completed in seconds. Behind-the-scenes preparation (like locating transaction records) can also be automated, allowing accountants to focus on higher-value initiatives.

According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (one of the Big Four audit firms), one of the top reasons that financial service organizations are turning to AI is their ability to help them innovate. With machines handling the “grunt work”, accountants can take on more of a forward-thinking advisory role. By studying trends to help companies make more strategic business decisions, accountants are able to create a new (and more valuable) niche that’s unlikely to be taken over by robotic accounting automation.

AI Tools for Today’s Corporate Accounting Industry

To increase the chances of long-term success, companies need to find solutions that are simple enough – but also functional enough – for their employees to adopt right away. (It’s also ideal for companies to ask their employees what features would be most important before selecting a system.)

At IntelliChief, we provide simple, intuitive automation software for routine accounting processes. Our solutions use artificial intelligence to eliminate manual data entry, automatically create and record transactions, and make audit preparation easier than ever. And, our AI tools integrate with the most popular accounting systems, like Oracle and SAP. This makes it simple to improve upon your corporate accounting workflows, without having to completely overhaul your approach.

To learn more about how companies have transformed their accounting departments with AI – and more importantly, how you can do the same – contact us today.