Why Automation Will Not Replace Bookkeepers
We’re currently entering the age of artificial intelligence (AI), and that means computers will probably be taking over a lot of jobs if they haven’t already. But will bookkeeping be automated?
If bookkeepers go about their careers right, the answer is a resounding no. Read on to find out why not and how you can avoid losing your job to the AI revolution.
What's the Current State of AI?
AI is changing the world as we know it. The machinery developed during the industrial revolution was the first step. Still, more recently, humans have combined those machines with sensors and neural networks to create machines or computer programs that can, for all intents and purposes, do the jobs previously left to people.
Of course, not all human activity can be tackled by AI. Personal and social matters remain distinctly human and probably always will, and AI isn’t quite capable of taking over most jobs.
AI scientists are working on technologies like computer vision, emotion recognition, and sentiment analysis, that will undoubtedly negate (or at least change significantly) tens of millions of jobs around the world. Telemarketers, proofreaders, tech support specialists, and market research analysts are on the list of professions that may be on the chopping block.
You can read up more on the future of AI in the workplace.
Why Bookkeepers Are Irreplaceable
There are some professions, though, that AI will never be able to replace fully. Bookkeeping is one of them. Here are some reasons why:
A big part of what makes a great bookkeeper is the ability to build a relationship with the client. It makes the client feel more secure that their money is being taken good care of.
An AI simply can’t gain trust through relationships as a human bookkeeper can. And even though it may seem logical that a computer can be trusted more than any human, consumers still value that personal touch. They very likely always will.
As I’ve written before, creating a strong brand for your bookkeeping business is just as important as the daily goings-on of said business. And branding is a very human practice that requires a deep understanding of the psyche. AI will never possess those capabilities to the degree that people do.
Even after the initial branding process is complete, the brand has to be upheld in everything the business does. This means a lot of a bookkeeping business’s decisions will probably be governed in part by integral principles that machines cannot grasp.
Bookkeepers often need to factor personal details and preferences into their decisions. While AI might be good at number-crunching, this “human” aspect of decision making is beyond its capabilities.
Perhaps, for example, you are deciding which charitable organization to advise the client to donate money. As a person, you will probably consider things like the client’s values and the charity organization’s perceived attitude. An AI would only consider cold hard cash, maybe factoring in a few ratings it found online.
The human decision-making process is subjective and takes into account countless factors. The AI process is objective and narrow-minded.
Each bookkeeping client needs to be treated differently to give them the best experience possible. Some might require a “bookkeeping for dummies,” explaining the big moves you make, for instance, to stay in the loop. Whatever the client’s specifications are, a good bookkeeper can adapt to them quickly and in a sensitive manner. AI will never be able to do that.
Will Bookkeeping Be Automated Further Down the Line?
No, bookkeeping will not be automated anytime soon. Too many aspects of the job require human-to-human sensibilities that AI is nowhere close to capturing.
In many decades, if AI is ever developed to a point where it can feel emotions in exactly the same way humans do, then it might be able to take over the bookkeeping industry. At that point, the question becomes whether people are comfortable having emotional interactions with a machine rather than another real human.
If that ever does happen, it won’t be for many years — certainly, after anyone reading this has retired. So no, if you’re wondering will bookkeeping be automated in the near future, the answer is almost certainly not.
So that’s another reason to pursue bookkeeping as a career: it is secure and will not fall prey to the AI revolution as many other jobs will. 100 years down the road, it’s impossible to tell what bookkeeping will be. Automated technologies are far too unpredictable for that. But for now, bookkeeping is a good bet.