We all use social media, smart phones and internet banking on a daily basis. Once revolutionary, app and cloud technology has now crept into our everyday lives to become the norm. This global transition is driven by our need for interconnectivity and mobility. Behind the scenes, networks of data gathering sensors and machine-to-machine communication are all hard at work.
Will accountants be replaced by robots?
When Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence software beat the world champion in the strategy game Go, there was no turning back. This and other breakthroughs in emerging technologies are causing developers to rip up the rule book and are transforming the world of tax and accounting as we know it.
Digital transformation, Application Program Interfaces (APIs), bots and cloud computing are already fully established within the software industry with rapid advances within AI, big data semantics and blockchain technologies setting the pace for the future.
Where’s this all going?
The biggest case for automation at the moment is HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative and the automation of tasks – such as bookkeeping and tax preparation – which will drive market disruption. According to a 2015 report from the BBC, the likelihood of an accountant or taxation expert’s job becoming automated is 95%.
How will this all happen?
Software applications used to exist in silos which worked well on their own but not together. The development of APIs overcomes this limitation, allowing organisations to work with any software on an open platform which enables an adaptable customer experience. This digital tax profile has already been adopted in Denmark and Australia for over 10 years with great success.
Huge advances in the development of artificial intelligence are allowing for better prediction tools and computer learning, things like face recognition and natural voice learning are improving bot interactions daily. Further development in the fields of augmented or mixed reality will provide customers with a more immersive and realistic technology experience.
Big data and semantic web will provide a common framework that will allow big data to be shared and reused.
The Internet of things and blockchain
Not all the data being gathered is being used by humans. Small level changes can be done by computers to improve efficiency and reduce human error in financial transactions.
Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, a foolproof, shared ledger or database that has huge potential usage. At Thomson Reuters Labs we’re working on bringing these new technologies into the hands of our customers and their clients. Don’t worry; I won’t bore you with all the techy details, perhaps there will be another blog for the avid tech enthusiasts!
So even though the promise of accountant-bots isn’t here quite yet, these technologies can already be utilised to help accountants to work smarter and better, whilst allowing software to handle more tasks which will help to make the transition to digital tax accounts that much easier.
Useful Techy Terms:
Bot – a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet.
API – in computer programming, an Application platform interface (API) is a set of defined specifications that make it easier to develop computer programs.
Bitcoin – a new payment system with completely digital money powered by users with no central authority or middlemen.
Blockchain – a public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions and the main technological innovation of Bitcoin, since it stands as proof of all the transactions on the network.
Mixed reality – a merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visuals that co-exist and interact in real time.