From RPA to AI: Understanding the Future of Technology for Accounting


2-minute read

There are new technologies coming out so fast, it’s hard to keep up with them all.

What’s the difference between robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and any of the other acronyms we hear used to describe the latest innovations in high-tech sorcery?

And why should we care as finance and accounting professionals?

We should care because some of these technologies have the potential to make our professional lives a whole lot easier.

Traditional, manual accounting processes are no longer sustainable. The longer we hold onto them, the harder it becomes to keep up with the increasing pace of business, and the more hours of overtime accountants have to work during the close.

As more companies look to modernize their finance and accounting processes, implementing some degree of automation is a logical step to increase efficiencies and automate time-consuming, transactional tasks.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that out of 400 respondents, 72% say their C-suite is supportive of RPA and 53% say they already have an RPA initiative underway. And these numbers will continue to grow as the demographics of the workforce change.

Millennials now constitute roughly one-third of finance teams today. Yet, according to 74% of CFOs surveyed for EY’s The Changing Role of the CFO, finance organizations are facing a talent crisis.

Even with the encouraging number of young people working in the finance and accounting industry today, only 25% say they’ll stay according to a CEB (a Gartner subsidiary) Global Labor Market Survey.

The CEB survey also states that “in every case…people welcomed…technology because they hated the tasks that the machines now do, and it relieved them of the rising pressure of work.”

This sentiment reflects the future of the accounting and finance profession—rote, transactional tasks aren’t worth your teams’ valuable and over-stretched time anymore.

Watch this on-demand IMA webinar to hear from two BlackLine experts on the topic of modern finance automation. Michael Shultz, Director of Finance Transformation and Sapna Nagaraj, Director of Machine Learning & Data Science will go over the basics of RPA and machine learning, plus:

  • Help you recognize where and when to use RPA or purpose-built automation solutions

  • Discuss how machine learning works and how it will impact accounting

  • Give examples of new skills that will be needed as technology revolutionizes the role of the accountant.