A large wave of AI disruption is about to hit accounting. Are you ready?

By James Nadal | 25th March 2019 | 16 min read

Gillian Fischer, Global Manager of Customer Advocacy at MindBridge Ai, is one of our guest expert speakers at our AI for Accountants event on 2 April.

Gillian, who has been a guest lecturer and speaker, has a comprehensive background in change management and helps customers embrace technology within their organisations through a global framework, including competency development and AI ambassadors.

In this interview with us, she explains more about where she sees AI going and why accountants should take note…

In your experience, how much scepticism still exists about AI? How do customers who are entirely new to AI view it?

Customers new to AI are typically very curious and eager to learn, not only about what it is, but how it impacts their industry. In my experience, there is still a significant amount of scepticism as it relates to artificial intelligence (AI), specifically regarding how it relates to individuals and their day-to-day work. Scepticism can also rise from a lack of understanding of what AI is as it relates to our product, and the notion of the “black box” of machine learning. This is why we work closely with our customers during this phase to raise their overall level of understanding and awareness, address critical topics around our human-centric approach to AI, and provide training to support skills and data competency development.

How do you demonstrate to auditors and accountants how AI is applicable in their day to day job? What are the key benefits?

AI can positively impact auditing firms as they address growing challenges in audit practice, including current sampling practices and the explosive growth of data. AI provides auditors with an ability to augment their capacity to detect errors and discover powerful insights, not only by analysing 100% of transactions and data, but by cross-correlating dozens of testing criteria against every data point.

To take this one step further, when working with new clients, we try to help identify the “what’s in it for me” for every key stakeholder we engage with, from Junior Associates to Senior Auditing Partners. This allows us to ensure that everyone is aware of how it directly impacts their work and provide value to them.

You have spoken about the expectation gap in the market. Please can you elaborate on what this is and how you are working to overcome it?

Our team is passionate about supporting and educating our customers in a way that allows them to understand the true value of AI as it relates to our product. This is embedded in our human-centric approach to AI. As noted, there is often an expectation gap in the market between the potential capabilities of AI technology and its application in our businesses today. Type in “Artificial Intelligence” into Google images, and you will be bombarded by futuristic black and blue photos of robotics heads, brains, and numbers. It’s not hard to imagine how people may have gained negative perceptions and, in some cases, assume that AI will replace everything that an auditor does altogether.

We also make AI real for our users by sharing peer stories, case studies, and testimonials of others using AI to enhance their audits today. Moreover, we help users understand where AI exists in our tool, and complete all training and demos using our actual platform. In addition, we participate in discussions about where the industry is going and provide a transparent and ethical approach to AI in audit as it continues to evolve. Read more about our approach to human-centric artificial intelligence from the voice of our CTO, Robin Grosset.

How long before AI becomes commonplace in the audit sector?

We’re observing significant movement forward beyond just early adopters; however it will still take some time. Strategic discussions around major trends and developments in technology are happening at many levels of the industry, including the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). What I can say, is that there is a large wave of disruption on its way, and when it hits, it will impact auditors that haven’t put AI on their technology roadmap. As our Executive Director, John Bednarek, says: “AI won’t replace accountants, but accountants who use AI will replace the ones who don’t.” The question is, who do you want to be?

Join us for the event

To hear Gillian and her MindBridge colleague Stuart Cobbe talk about all of these matters and more in-depth, offering their wealth of experience on AI and how it can benefit your practice, join us on April 2 at AI for Accountancy.

To register your interest, buy tickets, and see the full agenda please visit this page

Delegates will also hear from guest speakers Vijay Rathour from Grant Thornton, Shamus Rae from KPMG, and Steve Cox, IRIS Chief Evangelist.

Sign up today!

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the blog are personal to the guest speaker and not of IRIS