Automated Compliance: What’s in Store for CPAsJuly 28, 2017
I recently read a CPA Insider article by Chris Sheedy discussing how CPAs will survive the world of automation. It’s a great read, albeit a bit scary.
Press 1 for Automation
For years, automation has become almost a consumer expectation. We call our cable companies and dial 1 for account balance and 2 to make a payment, almost never speaking to a human being. Utility bills are automatically debited from our checking accounts. Recently, I noticed Google has even automated the replies I can send to my friends based on the content of the message – just push a button and the response appears as if I typed it myself. Moreover, how often are we actually typing our messages anymore versus using Siri?
I think one of the most creative ways a company used voice-activated automation was in a fast food commercial. The young man in the commercial expressed that in the 15-second spot he had he couldn’t list the ingredients of a particular burger. His next words were, “OK, Google. What’s in the Whopper?” Across the country, Google Homes lit up and rattled off the ingredients. Smart.
But where does the automation stop? This shift in technology is starting to keep many workers, even CPAs, up at night wondering what’s in store for their jobs over the next 5, 10, and 20 years.
How Can We Survive Automation?
As new technology emerges, computers will learn to read and translate tax and audit documentation. This is a direct threat to our profession.
But not all hope is lost.
A computer can’t explain the impact the data may have on a business or an individual. It cannot take into account the many variables that may affect a business. And a computer certainly can’t advise a client on the next best action.
This is where a CPA’s role of consultant becomes imperative for survival. Chris Sheedy quotes Alanna Klassen Jamjoum, director of digital transformation at A.T. Kearney, as saying, “In a future where we are increasingly surrounded by [artificial intelligence], we will crave human interaction even more. And many jobs will be augmented by AI, meaning people can achieve things they never thought possible. Technology should empower, not take away.”
There is room for CPAs in a world of automation, but don’t be too late to adapt. Position yourself as a consultant with your clients. Show them you are a business partner, not just a “bean counter.”
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