CPA Practice Advisor - 34

BRIDGING THE GAP

Automation is Here.

How Are You Leveraging It?
CPA FIRMS ARE in the midst of a transition. For years, research firms and thought leaders
have been predicting the disruption of the profession through automation. That disruption
isn't a vision for the future - it's here now. In 2017, Gartner has forecast a transition period,
lasting through 2020, in which AI would eliminate 1.8 million jobs. However, it also predicted
the creation of 2.3 million jobs.Currently, technology is creating ever-expanding opportunities
for automation in accounting firms and changing the expectations of clients, employees and
partners. So right now, we need to decide how we will embrace new technology, leverage
automation, and rely on it to create capacity and growth.
DON'T RACE AGAINST
THE MACHINE
In 2011, Erik Brynjolfsson and
Andrew McAfee published their
book, Race Against the Machine, How
the Digital Revolution is Accelerating
Innovation, Driving Productivity, and
Irreversibly Transforming Employment
and the Economy. In the book, the two
economists from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology predicted
that the AI revolution would soon
do to white collar jobs what robotics did to blue collar jobs -boosting
productivity while also eliminating
the need for many forms of human
labor. Workers whose skills have
been mastered by computers have
less to offer the job market and see
their prospects and profits shrink.
Rather than racing against the
machine, accounting firms can
capitalize on the vast opportunities
technology presents by embracing
automation and building strategies
to race alongside the machine. This
includes a transformation in business models and service offerings
for traditional CPA firms. In other
words, now is the time to identify
and offer services that move us up
the continuum of value with our
clients and truly shift from technical
advisors to trusted business advisors
and consultants.
Firms that continue to prioritize
transactional and compliance-based

34

JUNE 2019 ■

services will see those services
increasingly commoditized, see
their revenues erode, and struggle
to maintain relevance over the next
few years.

DO MORE OF WHAT
MAKES YOU HUMAN
What types of tasks are being automated in accounting firms today?
The ideal functions for computers
include routine tasks that can be
systematized by an algorithm.
■ Collecting financial information
■ Bank reconciliations
■ Invoice payments
■ Performing audit testing on large
data sets to identify exceptions
■ Extracting lease content data
■ Categorizing transactions
■ Tax research
■ Data entry
With these tasks (and more)
being handled by automation,
humans are left with the duties that
they do best.
In an article for the World Economic Forum, Unilever's Chief Human
Resources Officer Leena Nair wrote,
"Essentially, being human means
being able to build relationships with
one another." She called the industrial revolution the era of hands
when most U.S. workers worked
in manufacturing. The start of the
digital revolution led to the age of
the head, and computers made

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their way into businesses, homes
and schools. Now we're entering the
age of the heart - "an era in which
the sum of a group's talents - not
merely money or technology - will
be the measure of business, and the
measure of society overall."
The skills of the future cannot
be automated. They include the
ability to connect and empathize
with clients on an emotional level,
creativity to dream up new innovations and ideas that do not currently
exist, and professional judgment
that goes beyond logical reasoning.
Fortunately, these are also the skills
on which clients place the most
value.

EMBRACE THE
OPPORTUNITY
Today, many of the tasks that used
to take up a bulk of our days can
be handled in just minutes from a
mobile device. Expense reporting,
bill payment, electronic signatures,
detecting anomalies in a general
ledger and tax return preparation
are being automated. We can ignore
these advancements and wait for the
day when a computer replaces us. Or
we can embrace these tools, viewing
them as an essential partner that
eliminates some of the day-to-day
monotony and frees us up to work
where our unique human abilities
are needed.

JIM BOOMER, CPA.CITP

CEO, Boomer Consulting, Inc.
Director, Boomer Technology Circle™
jim.boomer@cpapracticeadvisor.com

BECOME YOUR CLIENTS'
HERO
There are still some people in our
profession who don't recognize the
benefits of automation or refuse to
acknowledge them. On an individual
basis, some of these tools perform
a small task that, at first glance,
doesn't seem that impactful to automate. However, you need to think in
terms of scale. When you automate
those small tasks repeatedly, the
time savings add up. Obtaining one
electronic signature may only save
a few minutes of your time. But how
much time would your firm save if
you automated hundreds or thousands of signatures every tax season?
When you scale the process, those
small increments of time become a
significant number.
Automation is not just about freeing up your time to focus on higher
value work. You can also become a
hero to your clients and colleagues.
We regularly hear from firm leaders
about the praise they receive from
clients and others in their firms after
introducing automation tools that
give them back some of their most
precious resource - time.
Don't fall into the trap of trying
to race against the machine. You
will lose and wind up part of the
1.8 million jobs that are eliminated.
But if you embrace automation and
build a strategy to run alongside the
machine, you'll set your firm up for
growth, increase profitability and
relevance long into the future. ■


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CPA Practice Advisor

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CPA Practice Advisor

2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
2019 Product Review - Tax Preparation Systems
From the Editor: Change is in the Air
The Millennial Advisor: Gone!?!
The 21st Century Accountant: The Four Stages of Robotic Process Automation
From the Trenches: Do Your Best Leadership
The Leadership Advisor: How to Adapt Our Habits to Create Stronger Connections at Work
The Staffing & HR Advisor: How to Quit Your Job Gracefully
Lean Six Sigma Advisor: 4 Steps to Ensure a Return on Your Technology Investment
Bridging the Gap: Automation is Here. How Are You Leveraging It?
Protect & Build Wealth Through Captive Insurance
How Simplification Has Complicated the Tax Office of the Future
Apps We Love: Legal Services
Can Employers Make Direct Deposit Mandatory?
Think Twice Before Not Paying Summer Interns
How to Gain Law Firm Clients With Clever Marketing
How to Set Up the Chart of Accounts for Law Firm Clients
Resources for the Law Firm Accountant
The ProAdvisor Spotlight: Next Day Funding for ACH: Powerful Payment Processing that Drives Prosperity
Don't Delay Implementing New Revenue Recognition Standard
AICPA News
How to Prepare for Summer and Not Leave Your Business Stranded
CPA Practice Advisor - 1
CPA Practice Advisor - 2
CPA Practice Advisor - 3
CPA Practice Advisor - From the Editor: Change is in the Air
CPA Practice Advisor - 5
CPA Practice Advisor - 2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
CPA Practice Advisor - 7
CPA Practice Advisor - Protect & Build Wealth Through Captive Insurance
CPA Practice Advisor - 9
CPA Practice Advisor - 2019 Product Review - Tax Preparation Systems
CPA Practice Advisor - 11
CPA Practice Advisor - 12
CPA Practice Advisor - 13
CPA Practice Advisor - 14
CPA Practice Advisor - 15
CPA Practice Advisor - 16
CPA Practice Advisor - How Simplification Has Complicated the Tax Office of the Future
CPA Practice Advisor - Can Employers Make Direct Deposit Mandatory?
CPA Practice Advisor - Think Twice Before Not Paying Summer Interns
CPA Practice Advisor - Resources for the Law Firm Accountant
CPA Practice Advisor - 21
CPA Practice Advisor - Apps We Love: Legal Services
CPA Practice Advisor - The Millennial Advisor: Gone!?!
CPA Practice Advisor - The 21st Century Accountant: The Four Stages of Robotic Process Automation
CPA Practice Advisor - The ProAdvisor Spotlight: Next Day Funding for ACH: Powerful Payment Processing that Drives Prosperity
CPA Practice Advisor - From the Trenches: Do Your Best Leadership
CPA Practice Advisor - 27
CPA Practice Advisor - The Leadership Advisor: How to Adapt Our Habits to Create Stronger Connections at Work
CPA Practice Advisor - The Staffing & HR Advisor: How to Quit Your Job Gracefully
CPA Practice Advisor - Don't Delay Implementing New Revenue Recognition Standard
CPA Practice Advisor - AICPA News
CPA Practice Advisor - Lean Six Sigma Advisor: 4 Steps to Ensure a Return on Your Technology Investment
CPA Practice Advisor - How to Prepare for Summer and Not Leave Your Business Stranded
CPA Practice Advisor - Bridging the Gap: Automation is Here. How Are You Leveraging It?
CPA Practice Advisor - 35
CPA Practice Advisor - 36
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