August 16th, 2018: This is the first in a series of blogs by Jotham Ty, who will be sharing the journey of how Gappify is preparing their bot Alan to take and pass the CPA exam in 2020.
YES, this goal is ambitious. And YES, despite the fact that Alan is already performing tasks autonomously today (mainly for AP, AR and GL) - the road to actually building Alan to pass the CPA exam is long, full of challenging obstacles, and also raises many questions. Alan reads/understands ERP data today, but how will he answer multiple-choice questions, write essays, etc.? Will the California Board of Accountancy (or any other agency) allow Alan to take the exam?
Instead of tackling these questions (which we'll do in future blogs), I'd like to start this blog series by answering the most frequently asked question we receive:
NO, bots will not eliminate the accounting profession.
Every accounting leader I have spoken to about this subject are skeptical about the idea that bots/AI will replace accountants. As someone who is currently running a company that designs and builds advanced automation solutions for the profession (e.g., our bot Alan), I completely agree with them 100%.
Unless you understand the mechanics of debits/credits, the application of technical accounting rules/ASC's, and the high level of precision/objectivity required from financial statements and reports we have to produce - I don't believe one would ever understand the level of human intuition and dynamic decision-making necessary to fulfill our responsibilities. There are far too many variables involved in the execution of our daily duties, which are even-more challenging to juggle due to the rapid changes in today's business environment, accounting standards, and systems/technology.
Of course, as a company developing a bot to pass the CPA exam by 2020, I'm a firm believer that bots will vastly improve our ability to perform our jobs efficiently and effectively. With a bot like Alan, imagine how much time can be spent on strategizing/planning for the many changes your organization is continually introducing. For example if you're in AR, if Alan is managing/actioning routine invoice collection activities - you may actually be able to stay on top of incorporating/configuring new SKUs within your existing accounting systems and processes (rather than being the last one to know about it during the final day of AR close).
I will also concede that accountants who perform clerical, mechanical, and spreadsheet-type work will need to evolve. In my mind, this is no different than standard evolution we see in other industries. A VCR repair-person at some point, for example, needed to evolve into a DVD repair-person. Those that make the effort to evolve continued on. In accounting, this means accountants will need to lay down their spreadsheets and start learning how to become bot-managers. I'm very proud to say that Gappify will be taking a lead role in that regard...but more on this later ;)
I hope this first blog series post clearly establishes our intentions. We did not build Alan to eliminate our profession. In fact, we are excited to rally and work together with our industry to accomplish this historic milestone. There will be many obstacles to overcome, but with the support of our community we believe we can develop a bot to pass the CPA exam by 2020.
For more on Alan's capabilities today, visit our page here.