David Roberson, Chief Executive Officer, RoseRyan
As artificial intelligence continues to evolve and more AI-powered solutions come to market, a positive picture is forming: AI can enrich our work lives. It can free many of us from repetitive or laborious tasks while also making us more efficient and productive and, ultimately, more effective at our core jobs. All of this can open up time to spend on more meaningful responsibilities, the kind that can have a more direct impact on the success of our companies and those of our clients.
In the accounting sector, AI can help firms like mine close in on the goals we have promised our clients—sooner, in some cases. By augmenting some of our work in a pilot program that automates some bookkeeping tasks, I can see the potential for AI to enhance the solutions we provide, while the technology is already helping to ease the accounting talent shortage that has been exacerbated by the flurry of career changes during the pandemic.
A Tentative Step Forward
Forward-thinking companies across industries that have incorporated artificial intelligence into their operations have reported increased productivity and improved customer experiences. These early adopters tend to be on the larger side and have made a concerted effort to make headway in their digital transformations.
On a quieter scale, our accounting and finance consulting firm is dipping our toes in to see to what extent AI is ready for our industry and how far we can take it. In the very early stages of incorporating AI software at RoseRyan, we are seeing a particular benefit for our more seasoned workforce, for some of our clients who need bookkeeping support. We’re also noticing that the positive effects of AI are likely to occur piecemeal over time—as the technology has some significant catching up to do.
The Need to Try New Things
As large accounting firms have dedicated large chunks of capital (upward of $9 billion) toward AI and automation in recent years—while acknowledging that some “routine jobs” would become obsolete at some point—smaller firms have been more cautious or haven’t delved into AI at all. In this ongoing trial period of an automated solution at RoseRyan, we are finding the following to be true: Wholesale adoption of AI is not possible at this point, and companies’ need for extensive accounting expertise (by humans) continues to grow.
At the same time, an incremental adoption of AI systems and an openness to experimenting will open up companies like ours to more efficiencies. As the potential for AI in accounting expands, we will be able to continue providing our consultants with engaging, fulfilling work, and our finance and accounting pros can keep more of their attention on advising clients.
What We’ve Learned
So far, through this pilot program with a handful of our clients, we are affirming that AI can effectively supplement the work our accountants do without compromising the quality that our clients have come to expect.
Venture-backed startups want to work closely with our seasoned consultants to not only cover their day-to-day accounting and develop their finance function but to provide guidance and strategic advice on where to take their company next. We frequently find when first working with a company, however, that we first need to introduce new processes and systems to help these startups wrangle and make sense of their financial data—and much of the work involved in getting their financial house in order is heavily transactional. The AI solution we are piloting has helped us streamline these efforts to transition clients to more of our advisory work. By helping us work more efficiently and flagging any issues along the way, this AI system is, by its nature, improving as it learns.
Surrounded by and working closely with incredibly innovative companies of Silicon Valley, RoseRyan has always strived to stay on top of the latest technology advances and to be willing to try new things. We’ve been recognized for having technology in our DNA, according to Accounting Today, which recognized RoseRyan as tops in technology after the outgrowth of Bizinta, a proprietary product created to solve our scheduling challenges that became its own company.
AI could be just one of the many pieces of the puzzle that our industry needs to continue exploring
In addition to our tech-friendly culture, we are also paying close attention to what’s going on in our industry. Price competition has become fiercer in recent years, and we know we need to seek alternative ways of operating—just like we encourage our clients to do. To be creative in a tight labor market and a competitive industry, we all need to try new strategies and ways of working—even though the accounting industry is not always known for being first to try something new.
As a company where people are our business—we are nothing without our talented consultants—finding the right talent has always been a top priority and often a challenge. We connect our client companies with the right talent at the right time. To ensure this pipeline works for us and for some of the most innovative companies in the world, we’ve had to be innovative ourselves. AI could be just one of the many pieces of the puzzle that our industry needs to continue exploring.
David Roberson is president of RoseRyan, a ZRG Company that provides tailored finance and accounting advisory solutions to companies of all sizes