Will Bots Eventually Take The Jobs Of Accountants & Bookkeepers?

Technology has come a long way.

Machines can now interpret sounds, images, and text in a way that allows them to capture data and analyze it at high volume.

Jobs that used to require a real, living person to do are now being passed off to robots that are built to be as efficient as possible. Think self-checkouts at the grocery store, the self-ordering kiosks at McDonalds that let you press a few buttons and be on your way, and the new Amazon Go stores that let you skip the checkout stage entirely.

Amazon Go.png

Still, with all of the shifts toward automation and robots, the common thought was that jobs like accounting and bookkeeping would be safe due to how complex they can be.

Still, with all of the shifts toward automation and robots, the common thought was that jobs like accounting and bookkeeping would be safe due to how complex they can be.

The conversation has changed.

Nowadays, it’s no longer a question of whether or not automation could play a role in the world of accounting. The question has become how exactly automation will influence accounting. To put it simply, automated accounting is the future.

Although it may sound intimidating, a future built around automation isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the finance industry and accounting as a whole. Thanks to the power of finance automation, accounting professionals will be able to make more time to focus on strategic efforts, increase productivity levels throughout their team, produce more accurate reports, and spend their time turning raw data into real, actionable insights.

In this post, we’re going to tackle the three big questions you’re probably asking as it relates to bots and finance automation in the accounting world:

  1. What Is A Bot & Why Should I Care?

  2. What Jobs Can Bots Actually Do?

  3. How Can Bots Save Me Time & Money?

The goal here is to help you understand just how much potential bots have, and what you can do today to start taking advantage of that potential.

Let’s get right to it…

1. What Is A Bot & Why Should I Care?

Before you can start to think about what bots could do for you and how you can use them to save yourself from countless headaches and wasted dollars, you’ll need to understand what a bot actually is. This quick definition from TechCrunch hits the nail right on the head:

“If we take a step back and look past these technicalities and different options (chat/ui/voice), we can focus on the real power of bots and see them for what they really are: automated agents, remotely working for you to accomplish a simple task.”

Automated agents working to help you accomplish simple tasks.

We know what you’re probably thinking right now…

“Okay that sounds pretty cool, but why should I care?

Bots are designed to take the boring, menial, repetitive tasks you often waste your time grinding through right off your plate to let you focus on what matters.

At Facebook’s 2016 F8 conference, they made the announcement that chatbots would be coming to Messenger. In the 6 months following the announcement more than 30,000 bots were created.

During Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at the conference, he said Facebook thinks you should be able to message a business the same way you would message a friend, and that advances in AI can help save peoples lives, referencing that the AI used to develop social tools is the same kind doctors can use to save lives.

In the world of business, one of the most influential bot ecosystems can be found within the communications tool Slack. Today there are more than 20 different categories of Slack apps and more than 50% of them operate like a bot. Here’s an example of the Teampay bot in action:

While bots and finance automation tools in the accounting world may not be the exact same as the ones used in Facebook Messenger, the emphasis Facebook and other platforms like Slack are placing on bots and AI speaks to how much game-changing potential they have.

2. What Tasks and Jobs Can Bots Actually Do?

After answering the what and the why of bots themselves, the next question becomes what roles these bots could actually fill.

A study from Deloitte on which accounting roles are likely to be automated in the future is a great place to start when think about how they’ll be able to help:

Probability Of Automation.png

Common accounting and finance roles like payroll managers are being replaced by tools like WagePoint, and roles that require a lot of manual data entry are soon going to be replaced by bots and automated solutions.

Another study from McKinsey & Company shows the actual accounting tasks that are most likely to be automatable in the future:\ \ McKinsey Automated Future.png

Both studies share a common theme. Any jobs that are based primarily on the management and tracking of spending are highly likely to be automated in the near future.

What does this mean for you and your organization?

The popular opinion is that automation and bots will leave everyone out of a job. What’s more likely is that finance *automation and bots will help you save costs *and keep your accounting and finance teams focused on other things that are more likely to help the business grow.

3. How Can Bots Save Me Time & Money?

There’s a saying you’ve probably heard a million times before, yet still rings true:

Time is money.

The reality is this…

Every minute you spend tediously working through tasks that could easily be automated is a minute you’re not working on something bigger that could be moving the needle.

Bots and other automation tools are built to address this exact problem.

The goal is to take the busy work off your plate and keep you focused on the big picture thinking that really helps the business grow.

Let’s run through a quick example:

Say you’re running a team and have a single company credit card that members of the team can use to purchase software, plane tickets, or any other company related expense. Any time they need to use it, they have to file a request, then wait for it to be approved, after which you’ll need to take the time to actually get them the card information.

With a tool like TeamPay, that entire process can happen in a matter minutes through Slack, which you’re already logged into on a daily basis anyway. Once the request is approved, they’ll have the card information automatically send to them, and all requests will be logged to look back on later in an easy to digest format like this:

Teampay Visual.png

As you can see, there are clearly benefits of embracing the rise of bots. These technologies can offer both accountants and bookkeepers the chance to focus on more strategic tasks.

Conclusion: Not Completely…

The primary takeaway here is that roles built around data entry and executing simple tasks are quickly being replaced by far more efficient automated solutions.

The reality is this:

Accountants & Bookkeepers are just as important as ever before.

While many of these things might be years away, it’s more important now than ever before for finance professionals to establish skills like strategic thinking, analysis and people management if they want to cement themselves in the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about the functions that Teampay is automating to make your life easier, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Published February 20, 2018 in InnovationFinanceBots

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