The difference between automation and innovation

November 7, 2016

what_is_the_difference_between_automation_and_innovationAutomated technologies and artificial intelligence in our society will challenge many professions in the future. Some of them may be strongly affected by technology and probably will operate in a completely different way from what we know. According to the book, ‘The Future of the Professions,’ by Richard and Daniel Susskind, the tax and accounting profession will also face significant changes.

Laurence Kiddle, in an article on the ICAEW website, has some interesting ideas – for example, in the near future, “it will become more economical for rule-based software to complete tax returns instead of expensive (and error-prone) humans.”

Another idea highlighted by Kiddle is that “tax compliance is simply interpreting regulations looking backward and that tax advisory is using those same regulations to look forward. So, even the planning and advisory aspects of tax work are ripe to be automated.”

All these ideas remind us of the importance of distinguishing automation from innovation. The former is the use of technology to support a traditional model, while the latter is the process of implementing new ideas using technology. The challenge here, as Kiddle points out, is to find a way to innovate the tax and accounting profession.

In our society, accounting firms of all sizes are looking to automation to streamline processes and to help deliver quality and efficiency. It is through innovation that firms will ensure they remain relevant now and in the future.