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Artificial Intelligence and its impact on accountancy

Posted 5 years ago in Tech by Xero
Posted by Xero

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionising our world, and particularly how our data is being used.

Paul Bulpitt, head of accounting for Xero UK, spoke about the potential of AI in the accounting industry at London Tech Week in Shoreditch.

Integrating AI into accounting

Paul explained the main advantages of artificial intelligence. Mainly that it can help businesses save time, eliminate mistakes and propel business management into a new realm.

Paul further explained that AI’s particular strength was that it could provide simplified solutions. For example; “Small businesses have always struggled with account codes. Everyone files things in different ways and the proof is in the 10,000,000 different account codes on Xero”. However, machine learning features such as automatic coding provide straightforward solutions to these issues. These tasks can become purely automated, eliminating errors that humans can so easily make.


Relax : It’s not about robots taking over the planet

Chris Kellner, Head of Business Development at Digital Genius spoke at the event about how they’re using artificial intelligence. He discussed that it was fairly similar to Xero. They were not using artificial intelligence to replace humans, but rather to enhance their work. He explained they use AI to work alongside humans to provide suggested responses to customers. This creates a more efficient process and consistent learning from integrations.

He explains that artificial intelligence is so far from the stereotype of robots taking over the planet, perpetuated by Hollywood. He says that these ideas have the potential to distort the opportunity tech is bringing. Chris describes the significant positive impact AI has had on KLM airlines. “Since KLM airlines integrated AI, it has closed over 30% cases with the help of AI and has sent more than 25,000 AI messages a month.”

AI unlocks time

Paul discussed the impact AI can have to unlock time. He says this saved time can propel business growth and revenue. Which in turn, creates true value. He emphasises that this gives small businesses the opportunity to “free up time to work on the parts of the business they are more passionate about.”

The future of AI is bright

London’s Xero tech week highlighted that the value of AI is expected to be $400 billion by 2020. Furthermore 49% of all paid activities today could be automated by AI. However, the possibilities for the accountant and small businesses are bright. Through combining the best of human and robot abilities we can look forward to a more advanced future.


Bob Harper
June 15, 2017 at 7.42 pm

Is “relax” really the right message?

There is no doubt; AI will eliminate the need for some tasks to be done by humans. The number of tasks AI will take on will only increase over time so there will be less need for time/people.

There is no guarantee clients will buy into new services. And, if they do there is no guarantee they will buy from accountants.

Blake Oliver
June 18, 2017 at 8.00 am

It’s a guarantee that most of the tasks that can be done wth low-skilled staff will be automated. But it will be decades before AI is advanced enough to do the analysis that is a key part of higher-level positions in accounting and consulting firms. For instance, determining the best KPIs to track, or the multi-entity structure that will minimize tax liability. As long as we are selling those services, the profession will be fine.

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