Adapt or dissolve: Why local businesses need to pay attention to AI

B2B Editor4 October 2017

Adapt or dissolve: Why local businesses need to pay attention to AI

Business owners in Canberra have been reaping the benefits of technologies that allow seamless expansion interstate for well over a decade. While we have a great local market, being able to tap into cities like Sydney and Melbourne (with over 9 times the size of our population) can prove very lucrative.

Harry Hoang, who runs Tailored Accounts in Braddon, is a big believer in embracing technology to work smarter and faster. He says that those who don’t adapt now run the risk of missing out on incredible opportunities in the long term.

“We opened our doors in 2009 and even though ‘cloud accounting’ was relatively new back then, we could see that it was going to revolutionise the accounting industry,” says Harry. “So we didn’t hesitate to jump on board and make it a part of our business model.”

Tailored Accounts grew exponentially between 2010 and 2015, moving offices 3 times to accommodate the extra staff. The company provides managed services accounting to business of all shapes and sizes across Canberra, and embracing cloud allowed them to reach interstate and drastically increase their client base.

“When you’re an outsourced accounts department for a company, you need to have your eye on everything from sales and invoicing to debt, collections, bills, payroll, quality assurance, reporting, tax and financial strategy. A decade ago, a business would have housed all that information on an internal server, requiring a bookkeeper or accountant to physically step into the location. There was also a ton of paper – receipts, ledgers, invoices…everything got printed. People are now seeing the benefits of going digital, which makes it so much easier to manage data properly.

“Cloud is practical and cost effective, and allows you to work with anyone, anywhere. We have many clients from Sydney who would not – or could not – have worked with us just 5 years ago.”

Harry says that cloud accounting software such as Xero makes it easy to collaborate and reduces the risk of human error. He also prophesises that cloud is just the beginning of a huge tech revolution in accounting, brought about by advances in artificial intelligence (AI).

He believes that any business that does not learn to make the most of AI, or understand its affects, will be left behind.

“Advances in artificial intelligence mean that programs are now capable of learning on their own. Inputted with a learning algorithm, they trawl millions of data points to draw conclusions on what works and what doesn’t. Xero already believes that their AI can do transaction coding much better than a bookkeeper.

“Imagine you have a meeting at a coffee shop, and pay with your credit card. The receipt is automatically inputted into your accounting software, where the software decides that because it’s a weekday and you’re near your office, it’s likely a business expense and files it automatically for you.

“When you generate an invoice, it can be automatically sent to another person’s cloud account, receive a remittance, get paid and reconciled – all without any human intervention.

“Repetitive tasks like these will be taken over by AI in the very near future, and I’m not afraid to say it will be more efficient. But at the end of the day, it means that we can ask ourselves: How can we add value where machines can’t?”

Harry says that increased benefits from the use of AI are a mere 2-3 years away, and that businesses can start preparing and helping themselves save time, money and sanity in the long run by making an effort to embrace cloud accounting now.

“If you have an accountant set it up properly for you, and manage it well, then they should be able to advise you of all the latest advancements as they become available. It’s about making your life simpler by harnessing the technology that exists, and then finding new and meaningful ways to add value in a B2B relationship.”

For more information, or to chat with Harry about your accounts, visit Tailored Accounts or call 6169 5196.

Original Article published by Rachel Ziv from the RiotACT.

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