Robotic Accounting is part of the automation mega trend that changes the way we work today and influences the jobs available to humans in the future. Even now, accountants are no longer required to perform menial tasks that machines can do faster, cheaper and more accurately. Perhaps not universally acknowledged, but accounting has always been at the forefront of societal development. And today, accounting is changing our lives again.
To understand why accounting has such an impact on our lives we need to go back 15,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia; The location of the oldest accounting records ever found. To sustain the biggest empire of its time, it was a necessary practice for ancient rulers to track taxation and trading activities and is believed to have revolutionized the development of writing, counting, and money. Essentially, without accounting, we’d still be hunter-gatherers.
With the addition of credit and debit in the 1300’s by European merchants, the modern foundation of bookkeeping was introduced and is still very much the way we work today.
However, things are changing. Fast. Listed by Forbes as a mega trend for 2018, automation is an “unstoppable freight train” and is estimated to replace up to 47 percent of current US jobs.
This impending situation creates a demand for extreme measures and a revolution in accounting is only the beginning. Robotic Accounting automates invoicing, matching of invoices, and archiving for auditing purposes, among other things. This is not the same as replacing the accountant with a robot, it is giving the accountant valuable extra time to do an even better, yet changing job.
Firms understand this and try to adapt. Adam Davy, head of advisory at BDO New Zealand, compares this situation “to NASA’s human ‘computers’ of the 1960’s as seen in the movie Hidden Figures.” Instead of combating change, these women decided to retrain themselves as coders and computer administrators. And with success.
The loss of jobs has never stalled our civilization. In fact, technology has pushed our capacity to increase output efficiency manifold. And automation is already replacing jobs since the introduction of the steam engine. It is just picking up a faster pace thanks to technological advancements.
Robotic Accounting is only the first step in a series of modernizing accounting efforts. The final step of this revolution is the general usage of the blockchain, which makes triple-entry accounting possible. The most extreme form would be decentralized and trustless, but that will not be an overnight reality. Still, 90 percent of major European and North American banks are already exploring blockchain solutions.
Perhaps, in the far future, historians will once again say that the accounting revolution of the 2000’s was a watershed moment for our civilization.