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Leveraging Technology Is Both a Sprint and a Marathon

The annual partner retreat in 2016 was like no other. There was a collective “aha!” moment when we realized that embracing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) could mean the difference in EisnerAmper becoming a full-service business advisory firm.

Thus, in 2017, the die was cast. EisnerAmper worked with leaders in the technology sector to develop proprietary smart auditing tools. This software incorporates complex algorithms that enable computers to actually learn by repeatedly ingesting vast amounts of data. One example where clients are now benefiting from this technology is revenue recognition engagements.

Exactly how is this disruptive, you may ask? This labor-intensive auditing task that is now performed by AI frees our practitioners to focus their time and energies on holistic advisory services and high-level strategic consulting. The capability to absorb and analyze large amounts of data quickly (and cost effectively) will enable us to develop new service offerings tailored to disparate client needs. It tilts the scale from offering retrospective insights to the more-valuable prospective guidance, which offers an amazing competitive advantage. In fact, a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and SAP found that 68% of respondents are now experimenting with machine leaning and AI, and 75% of those organizations are already seeing benefits.

There certainly are risks associated with being an early adopter of this, or any, technology. And while a technological competitive advantage often has a short shelf life, we’ve balanced that with taking the necessary time to implement our machine-learning program incrementally and methodically, service by service. Furthermore, in addition to the software costs, we’ve made a sizeable investment in the people who help make it work: business analysts and application developers. Our tech experts will work hand in hand with accounting, auditing and tax leaders to develop new capabilities and services. But no risk, no reward. And in the end, it will be our clients who benefit the most.

I’m grateful to Digitalist Quarterly Executive to be able to share these and some other thoughts on how to utilize technology to enhance the client experience in a pair of articles: The Multiplier Effect and The Human Side of Machine Learning. I hope you enjoy them.

Charles Weinstein is the CEO of EisnerAmper LLP with over 35 years of experience in the field of public accounting.

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