Due to the technological irruption caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, many predictions augur well for the end of accounting. But is accounting really in danger of extinction?
The origins of accounting go back to Venice, in 1494, at the hands of the friar Luca Pacioli. Accounting has evolved since then, but the basic structure of its operation remains the same today. We have gone from making handwritten notes in an accounting book to recording accounting movements in a computer program, thanks to new technologies. But, deep down, we’ve only changed the physical medium.
Industry 4.0, based on robotic process automation or process automation through the use of next-generation software, has brought about a paradigm shift. Robots, despite being in the form of software, are becoming faster and more efficient in registering expenses, invoices or reconciling bank transactions autonomously. This means that, in the not-too-distant future, this learning of robots will develop artificial intelligence capable of replacing humans in the tasks of introducing accounting records.
Accounting, as we know it today, will eventually disappear. New technologies, such as Blockchain, will create an ecosystem made up of companies, financial institutions, auditors, tax and legal authorities that will share the same information from the cloud in real-time. Therefore, in the strict sense of accounting, we can say that accounting will disappear. But if we understand accounting as a tool of financial information, the need for the value that data gives us will continue to exist. We will not have to devote time and effort to repetitive and easily automated tasks, but we will be able to devote more time to the analysis and strategic planning of different future scenarios. In short, we will have won in prediction and anticipation.