Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predicted to Takeover

Forrester reported last summer that they estimate that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025. Additionally, Gartner has predicted that one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines within ten years. Moreover, McKinsey & Co found in an analysis that “as many as 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.”

AI Takeover – What Does it Mean?

AI takeover is not a new concept; it has served as the main theme in many movies over the last decades; such as the Terminator and Matrix film series. However, science fiction films have mainly focused on true AI takeover (taking control over the planet over the human race).

There are mixed opinions on to what extend of AI takeover will happen and whether it is good for the labor force or not. Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most known scientists, said in 2014 that he believes that “computers will overtake with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours”. Whether it will happen in that time frame or not, one cannot argue with how technology has disrupted the labor force in the past decade.

Does AI Remove or Create Jobs?

Technology has, in the past 10 years, created jobs that never existed before; such as app developer, social media manager, and cloud computing services. Technology has also allowed humans to become more productive and created more opportunities for consumer empowerment. But is this going to be the case with AI?

Fully developed AI systems will essentially perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Thus, machines would be able to learn autonomously, make decisions and interact with the world via sensory capabilities.

Related: 3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Accenture predicts that 80% of accounting and finance tasks will be automated in the next five years. What does this mean for the future of accounting professionals?

AI is going to change the accounting profession. But rather than replacing accountants, it is simply going to alter the tasks of accountants. Bernard Marr, an author specializing in business, technology and big data, wrote in a recent article for Forbes that “it is high time for every accountant to reflect on their job, identify the opportunities machine learning could offer to them, and focus less on the tasks that can be automated and more on those inherently human aspects of their jobs”.

Ultimately, accountants need to stay ahead of the technology curve and figure out what tasks they can automate. This, as a result, will allow for more time on tasks that still require human intelligence. Robots will not replace accountants anytime soon; however, AI will definitely disrupt and change the profession.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

What are you doing to stay ahead of the technology curve?

3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Technology is disrupting markets in significant ways by reducing costs, making systems and processes more efficient and empowering customers. The healthcare industry, which had $3.2 trillion in expenditures in 2015 (nearly 18% of total GDP) in the U.S., is expected to be able to reduce costs by $300 billion by simply implementing new technology. Before going into the key tech benefits in healthcare, we will briefly discuss the different technology solutions that are already making an impact.

Related: How do CFOs Keep Up with Technology Changes?

Artificial Intelligence

Commercialization of big data and machine learning has introduced AI to the healthcare industry and it’s believed to change the way diagnoses and treatment of patients are carried out. A study by Frost and Sullivan in 2016 projected that the AI market in healthcare will grow by 40% and reach $6.6 billion in 2021. Additionally, Frost and Sullivan also projects that AI can improve outcomes by 30-40% and reduce treatment costs by 50%. Ultimately, AI is expected to allow the health industry to automatically diagnose and recommend treatments to patients. The fact that implementing AI will reduce costs makes it even more enticing.

Mobility

By 2018 it is estimated that 65% of all interactions with healthcare facilities will be via mobile devices. In November 2016, StatCounter also reported that, for the first time, there are more users around the world that are accessing the Internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers. Needless to say, the increase in mobile usage among customers is something that the healthcare industry is taking advantage of. Mobile usage has also enabled the new concept Telemedicine, where patients can get in touch with their physicians from remote locations by simply joining a conference call.

Cloud Access

Cloud technology has changed healthcare facilities in multiple areas by for example allowing employees get real-time guidance through information systems. More importantly, cloud access has allowed healthcare facilities to safely store data and for a reduced cost. Hospitals, in particular, have to store massive amounts of data on patients on a daily basis that they ultimately use to make strategic and informed decisions about treatments.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

Main Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Technology will continue to disrupt the healthcare industry going forward, and there is a reason for it. Digital approaches offer enticing benefits for both healthcare facilities and patients.

1. Reduced Cost

Technology will reduce costs, both for businesses and customers. Businesses want to maximize profits, customers want to pay less money. All in all, it works out for everyone.

2. Better Care

Technology approaches such as cloud software allows physicians to make better informed decisions in tough times, which ultimately can improve treatments of patients and outcomes. Healthcare facilities want to treat patients so they can live longer lives and patients want to receive the best care possible. Technology makes this possible.

3. Empowered Patients

Finally, technology also empowers the patients, who no longer have to schedule their days around a doctor’s visit. Technology has essentially allowed healthcare facilities to become more patient-centric.

Conclusively, technology in healthcare offer many innovative approaches to grow and save money at the same time. What are your thoughts on technology as it relates to healthcare? Do you agree on the benefits listed above or do you see other potential benefits with technology in healthcare? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Cloud Accounting Software: Ultimate Guide

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3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

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Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predicted to Takeover Forrester reported last summer that they estimate that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025. Additionally, Gartner...
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How to Improve Your Sales Forecast Accuracy

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4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

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5 Myths About Outsourced Accounting

Outsourced accounting continues to be an alternative that businesses chose to pursue instead of doing the work in-house. In 2016, Deloitte found that outsourcing of financial functions was projected to increase by 27% globally. However, whether you've been considering...
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3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Technology is disrupting markets in significant ways by reducing costs, making systems and processes more efficient and empowering customers. The healthcare industry, which had $3.2 trillion in expenditures in 2015 (nearly 18% of total GDP) in the U.S., is expected to...
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A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

When people refer to "the cloud" nowadays it's usually not the mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere they are talking about, but the cloud as if refers to cloud computing. Gartner reported earlier this year that the worldwide public cloud services...
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3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

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Business Intelligence is a Competitive Advantage

Business Intelligence is a Competitive Advantage

It’s the first day of the month, the finance and accounting teams are reconciling balance sheet accounts, recognizing revenue, accruing expenses, and recording financial transactions. Everybody is busy working against the clock to have the financial statements ready on time. Then, a request from the senior management team arrives. They want a series of sales reports so they can decide when to launch the new product line. This is a situation where a Business Intelligence (BI) solution would’ve been very handy. But let’s start with the basics.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence is the set of strategies, processes, applications, data, products, technologies and technical architectures which are used to support the collection, analysis, presentation and dissemination of business information.

Business Intelligence Systems

To implement BI, you need BI systems. These are solutions created to collect, store and analyze data for informed decision-making. These systems are particularly useful for evaluating customer or brand profitability, carrying out statistical analysis, undertaking inventory evaluation, and being part of a market research project.

Good BI solutions, at a minimum, include reporting with multidimensional aggregation and allocation, real-time information, reliable integration with the data sources and key performance indicators.

Challenges of BI Systems

Quite often, data is scattered in disparate systems such as accounting, forecasting, sales, customer relationship management (CRM), project management, inventory, etc. So, when a company decides it’s time to implement a BI tool, a big project must be launched. Not only because the new system needs to be implemented, but also because the IT department needs to create programs and processes to feed the BI tool with data extracted from all these systems.

Writing interface programs with instructions to extract data from a system requires extensive knowledge of the database. This means you need an experienced IT programmer in staff—or hire an expensive consultant—for each system that has data needed by the BI solution.

Then comes the problem of deciding how often to refresh the data in the BI system. Should it be weekly? Nightly? More than once per day? Unless you refresh the data in the BI database as soon as a transaction occurs in the originating systems, the BI information will never be real-time.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

ERP Solution with Integrated BI functionality

These issues don’t exist in an integrated solution with business intelligence capabilities. Software like this acts as the trusted system of record and depository of most of the financial and operational data. It offers the whole spectrum of core financial modules and it can be extended with fully integrated Intacct modules such as project accounting, time and expense management, contract revenue management, contract and subscription billing, inventory management, and more.

And built in the solution, multiple software companies offers the business intelligence components required to make smart and informed decisions:

  • Multidimensional aggregation and allocation. Thus, you can tag transactions to as many dimensions as needed. These dimensions can then be used on reports as criteria to sort, filter and aggregate.
  • Real-time reporting. Being an integrated system, all modules update a single database. Once a transaction is entered in any module, it is available for viewing and reporting. No IT interface programs and no IT experts are required.
  • Reliable integration with the data sources. Most systems offers pieces of software (APIs) that allow easy integration of third party systems with the database and functions.
  • Key performance indicators optimization. Most software solutions integrates dashboards that provide real-time access to key information and indicators that can be customized to meet the needs of the business.

Is your company at a stage where BI solutions are being considered? If you’re interested in learning more, check out the free whitepaper below on how to successfully launch a BI initiative.

Learn Secrets to Drive A Successful BI Initiative

A 2014 report by Dresner Advisory Services, the Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study, surveyed more than 1,200 IT and business professionals at companies of all sizes, from around the world, about their use of BI.

The study revealed that companies that achieve BI success follow five common best practices. We share these approaches to help you launch and drive a successful BI initiative at your organization — before your competitors crack the code first and pass you by.

GET FREE PDF
How Do CFOs Keep Up with Technology Changes?

How Do CFOs Keep Up with Technology Changes?

Changing Technology and Financial Pressure

Rapid change in technology has put a lot of pressure on finance and accounting teams. CFOs have increased responsibilities and their role is evolving. As a result, boardroom-level strategy is now as much of a focus as the balance sheet. Robert Half Management Resources recently released a survey with over 2,200 US companies of all sizes where they asked CFOs the following question:

“In general, what would you say is the single greatest pressure facing your accounting and finance function?”

Their responses were:

  • Keeping pace with changing technology
  • Meeting regulatory compliance mandates
  • Harnessing and managing big data
  • Finding and keeping skilled staff

Thus, based on the survey conducted by Robert Half, it seems that the greatest pressure CFOs are currently facing is changing technology. Leading financial managers should be able to look at a problem from many points of view and find a solution among disparate notions as a result. Therefore, gaining visibility into data and turning it into information is key. If data isn’t accurate, information and perceived solutions are flawed, or even worse, your solution only leads to further problems and you lose credibility.

7 Ways for CFOs To Keep Up with Technology

Paul McDonald (senior executive director for Robert Half), James C. Bourke (CPA/CITP/CFF, a partner in a large CPA firm) and Jeff Drew (Senior Editor at CGMA Magazine) have come up with seven tips that are especially relevant for CFOs to keep up with changes in technology.

  1. Hire financial staff with strong technology knowledge.
  2. Interact with in-house IT staff and outside consultants who are trusted technology experts.
  3. Attend conferences featuring sessions on current and emerging technologies.
  4. Set up RSS feeds with specific technologies as keywords.
  5. Join and become active in technology user groups.
  6. Collaborate with other CFOs at companies that use the same technologies.
  7. Meet with fellow CFOs to discuss technology issues.

How do you keep up with the pace of change in technology at your business? Do you employ any of the methods listed above?

Why Excel Can Be Bad for Your Business

Why Excel Can Be Bad for Your Business

Why Do Businesses Use It?

The main reason a businesses still rely on Excel is familiarity with the program and the extremely low cost. When it was first released it had a huge impact on the way businesses operated, as it greatly reduced the time it took to maintain financial records

Today; however, the situation is very different. The business world has changed, but many businesses continue to use it for a multitude of different purposes for which it was not intended, and at which it is not very good.

Can It Be Bad for Your Business?

Close to 90% of Excel spreadsheet contain errors. Ray Panko, professor of IT management at University of Hawaii wrote in his article What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors that “spreadsheets, even after careful development, contain errors in 1% or more of all formula cells… in large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors”.

The reason why errors occurs with Excel is because every file is created by a person, and people make mistakes. Additionally, the opportunity for mistakes grows as the files get bigger and more employees are involved in editing the file.

There are multiple examples of Excel blunders that have caused businesses billions of dollars due to errors in Excel. Business Insider reported in April that almost one in five large businesses have suffered financial loss due to excel errors. JP Morgan, for example, lost $6.6 billion due to alleged manual copying and pasting of incorrect data with multiple Excel spreadsheets.

How Can You Avoid Errors?

Ask yourself the folllowing questions regarding your company’s use of Excel:

  1. Will the spreadsheet be used by more than 2 people?
  2. Is the information contained in the spreadsheet critical to my business?
  3. Do I rely on this information to make my company or department operate effectively?
  4. Do I need multiple copies of the data for concurrent access or for data security concerns?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions above, the good news is that you can replace Excel with other cost-effective alternatives. Cloud-based and SaaS licensed products have lowered the cost and commitment of replacing Excel to a point that most organizations will be able to find a solution suitable.

Download our free guide to Why Financial Planning Belongs in the Cloud below.

LEARN ABOUT FP&A IN THE CLOUD

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Data-Driven Approaches Guide Businesses

Data-Driven Approaches Guide Businesses

Data-Driven Decision Management

The data-driven approach is gaining popularity as the amount of available data increases with market pressures. The success of the data-driven approach relies on the quality of the data, its analysis and interpretation. However; errors can creep into data analytics processes at any stage and serious issues can result when they do. Therefore, it is important to have the right tools and procedures in place to lessen the risk of errors.

How CFOs Value and Use Data

The following points from a recent Adaptive’s Insights research study provide insight into how CFOs value and use data to set strategic direction.

  • 84% feel the most important skill they have is to think and act strategically
  • 69% want to leverage data to make more insightful analytics-based decisions in 2015
  • 40% consider the ability to leverage analytics to make data-driven decisions as one of their most required skills
  • 47% want their analysis to be based on predictive data, and 48 percent based on historical data
  • 76% are facing an increase in KPI demand from the executive team
  • Financial KPIs are the most effective types for management decision making

It wasn’t long ago that only large enterprises had the budget and resources to be able to utilize data-driven tools. However, as companies are leaning more towards the data-driven approaches, companies of all sizes are now using dashboards and other visualization tools to track KPIs, metrics, and other key data points relevant to their business. Data visualizations, most noteworthy, simplify complex data sets to provide users with at a glance awareness of current performance.

To learn more about how finance leaders are addressing and planner for quicker and more agile finance, check out the CFO Indicator Report: Q1 2017 from our partner Adaptive Insights below.