The rise of artificial intelligence is grabbing the headlines, but what does it really mean for businesses today?
One of the most common forms of AI used on a daily basis is Google’s word processor for Google Docs, which automatically corrects grammar in real time. AI is being quickly built into other programs, from SME accounting software to enterprise resource planning.
It is early days and whilst it is simple to review a suggested sentence structure it is more worrying to leave AI to look at cash flow forecasts through predictive algorithms.
The human brain works well at prediction which is the area under development for AI. Whilst humans are still proving to be essential for most business functions, forensic accounting and auditing are already making way for algorithm-driven programs that process huge volumes of transactions. These programs are capable of pilling up a shortlist of transactions to check for fraud or error.
Fifty years ago, accountants had teams of people doing arithmetic. When the spreadsheet arrived it dramatically lowered the cost of doing that arithmetic and helped clients make decisions. Before spreadsheets arrived, one would have expected the arrival of such a powerful decision-making tool to reduce the need for accountants but numbers have remained steady. The new tools created new opportunities and the roles of the accountants changed to better serve clients.
As AI develops and improves existing work paradigms will shift across all business sectors.