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Why AI will always need humans

Oct 11, 2021 | Tips

Contrary to long-held assumptions that the introduction of artificial intelligence into the workplace would lead to mass redundancies and permanently high unemployment rates, AI has instead taken industries like accounting and financial services to new heights.

We are still only scraping the surface of the value that can be derived from AI and predictive analytics, and humans will play a vital role in exploring those untapped benefits. These technologies rely on people to not just support them, but make them more valuable to an organisation – here’s why.

There are grand opportunities that automation and streamlined data-collection solutions can bring to your accounting firm. Moreover, these technologies are improving specific roles and even driving wholesale changes within practices.

Accountants need to broaden their skill sets

The introduction of anything new to an organisation can be challenging for team members – especially those who are naturally resistant to change. AI solutions may therefore take some getting used to, but hopefully with education and support, those early resistors can come to see the value in the technologies, and perhaps even leverage their strengths in their day-to-day tasks.

However, simply adapting to the presence of AI and predictive analytics solutions is not enough. Because the technologies are continually evolving, that means accounting and finance professionals need to change with them. In order to excel in their roles, they must arm themselves with the right knowledge, expand their skill sets and adapt to changing responsibilities within the firm.

The learning never stops

Accountants need to not just avail themselves of new AI-driven processes, but also the specific systems that support those processes. After all, AI and predictive analytics can only collect and maintain the data – without humans to interpret the results, there is no value to analytics.

More importantly for leaders within the practice, failure to learn about the firm’s AI and PA tools can represent significant business risk. For example, what happens when a team member doesn’t have the skill set to manage AI-supported tasks? How much time and money is lost before the problem is addressed? For the individual, this lack of knowledge can lead to missed career opportunities, because having an understanding of technology-driven processes is now central to the accounting sector.

The accountant of the future must be able to analyse and interpret large datasets. They will also need to develop robust data skills, have a clear understanding of how to manage various data streams, and be able to analyse data for critical decision-making and problem-solving.

Humans are a vital link in the AI chain

This ability to interpret and analyse data is arguably the biggest reason why AI will always need humans. But people also have something robots never will: the human element. That means only humans can add value to the client experience, such as by providing advisory services.

It’s people who give your firm’s data the structure it needs. This is why data preparation is such a critical task. ‘Data science’ skills are becoming a more common requirement for hiring managers in the accounting and financial services sector. Why? Because firms need individuals to feed smart data to machines in a way that supports their activities for greater end results.

Saurabh Hooda, co-founder of Hackr, said it best when he wrote: “Before dealing with data preparation, a smart AI must be aware of the context the data is collected for. Moreover, the industry belonging to the nature of the task for which the data is to be prepared must also be studied inside out.

“Unfortunately, such a smart AI doesn’t exist. As such, human intervention is still required during the data preparation step and will likely remain that way for several years to come.

“Even the smartest machine-learning systems of today can only work after they’re told what and how they need to work. Such systems will only optimise data using representative training data sets already prepared.”

Humans and AI can – and will – coexist for the foreseeable future. One without the other provides far less value to both the firm and its clients.

Ready to see the true power of data in your accounting practice? APS offers best-in-class functionality and integration while supporting your practice’s analytics goals, so you can focus on what’s most important: providing outstanding advisory services to your clients, through accurate data and strategic insights, to help cultivate long-term success. Contact us today or call (+61) 2 9965 1300 to request a demo and find out more.

To find out more about APS software, visit aps-software.com.

APS is a division of Reckon, an ASX listed company. We develop the software used by the best Accounting Firms in Australia and New Zealand to run their business’ and advise their clients.