BUSINESS LEADERS SPEAK OUT AT LONDON TECH WEEK ABOUT POTENTIAL OF MACHINE LEARNING ON BUSINESS ECONOMY

Machine learning in accounting could be the start of an errorless small business economy, says Xero’s head of accounting at London Tech Week

The head of accounting at the UK’s leading cloud accounting software company spoke on Tuesday about the impact machine learning is having on accounting, predicting that this kind of technology is leading to a more seamless and time-rich small business economy.

Speaking after Xero’s London Tech Week event in Shoreditch, Paul Bulpitt spoke about the potential that software is having on business to eliminate mistakes, save time and propel business management into a new realm.

An example of AI in accountancy was highlighted by Paul as account coding. “Small businesses have always struggled with account codes – everyone files things in different ways and the proof is in the 10,000,000 different account codes on Xero,” explained Paul. “Like so many tech solutions in our lives, the best way to help small businesses with these kind of tasks is to simplify them, which is where machine learning features such as automatic finding and recoding come in. It’s these types of errors that are totally normal for mere humans to make, but can have a huge impact on business productivity, which is why automation of these kind of tasks is so important.”

Chris Kellner, Head of Business Development at Digital Genius spoke at the event about how they’re using artificial intelligence in a similar way – implementing machines to work alongside human agents to provide suggested responses to customers, speeding up the process to help humans deal with more cases, all the while learning from every integration to boost output.

“Since KLM airlines integrated AI, it has closed over 30% cases with the help of AI and sent more than 25,000 AI messages a month,” explained Chris. “AI is a huge time saver for business, which is further proof as to how humans can harness this kind of technology without the Hollywood threat of robots taking over the planet, which has the potential to distort the opportunity this tech is bringing to society.”

Paul explained that this kind of technology is unlocking time that when used productively, can propel business growth and revenue. “We’ve entered a time when we’re more connected to our surroundings than ever, but instead of being overwhelmed by the data we have access to, and small businesses can reap the rewards of having this kind of tech at our fingertips, freeing up time to work on the parts of their business they are more passionate about.”

The impact of AI is clear – the event highlighted that the value of AI is expected to be $400bn by 2020 and that 49 per cent of all activities people are paid to do today could be automated by AI. But for small business owners and accountants alike, the future of business alongside artificial intelligence is bright – if used to combine the best of human and robot abilities for a more advanced future.