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Machine Learning and the Future of Accounting Analytics

Machine learning (ML) is the ability of a computer to recognize and learn patterns and mimic human intelligence. The ML field combines computer science with artificial intelligence (AI), which gives computers the capacity to learn, much like humans. ML does this by using networks that function similarly to those in the human brain: when algorithms process and examine data, they recognize patterns, make predictions and uncover insights, which drives decision-making and builds connections.

The CPA Journal predicts that machine learning will change the face of modern accounting by automating accounting processes (using machine learning algorithms) such as expense reports, risk assessment and accounts payable. An online Master of Accountancy Professional Track program from Northern Kentucky University (NKU) can help prepare you for the next frontier of ML accounting. By gaining a foundation in regulation, auditing, attestation, financial accounting and reporting, you can discover how machine learning impacts and transforms these areas.

How Accountants Use Machine Learning

If you've ever used a chatbot on a website or asked Alexa a question, you've used machine learning technology. ML is changing the accounting world by learning coding behaviors and speeding up a variety of business processes.

A survey by Sage shows clients expect more innovative services and technological practices from their accountants than in previous years because ML, at its core, saves companies time and money. Using AI to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, improve functionality and increase productivity are a few reasons accountants utilize machine learning in their day-to-day schedules.

ML can also assist accounting companies to be more competitive by using robotic process automation (RPA) to reduce the time spent on processing audits from months to just weeks. Automated bookkeeping combines the skill of an accountant with artificial intelligence to recognize and analyze data. However, accounting firms still prefer human interaction regarding creative aspects, so they rely on machines for speed, security and accuracy in financial services. These AI advances will shape the future of reporting, auditing and attestation.

How Machine Learning Will Change the Future of Accounting

Experts are exploring the ways to use machine learning in risk assessment processes and financial statement audits. Technology such as speech recognition could help recognize when someone gives potentially deceptive answers and identify noteworthy pauses and delays with responses. Facial recognition could also catch facial patterns that suggest deception or stress in fraud interviews. Linking machine learning with business intelligence will improve the process of transforming data into high-quality information while adapting to different data sets. ML can also facilitate business intelligence tools by implementing user-friendly interfaces to allow deep insights into data.

Accounting professionals are increasingly using ML and AI technology with big data in their business processes. A report from The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business suggests that this trend will grow.

Next Steps

As a student in NKU's Master of Accountancy Professional Track program, you'll take courses such as advanced auditing, financial accounting and reporting, strategic management accounting, forensic accounting, federal taxation of corporations and more. These courses will prepare you for the current and updated CPA exam in the fields of auditing, regulation, data analytics and financial accounting. Armed with knowledge of the impact of changing technologies on the accounting field, you will be well equipped to enter the professional financial world or propel a career already underway.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University's online Master of Accountancy Professional Track program.

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