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AI for Accounting: Processing and Understanding Documents

Posted by Alexander Hagerup on Dec 12, 2018 8:15:00 AM
Alexander Hagerup
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AI for Accounting: Processing and Understanding Documents

As a starting point for building a productive workflow, the AI technology you select needs to understand what you’re sending to the platform. Historically, it’s been tough for a computer to understand documents because of the challenge in extracting relevant content.

AI technology could not previously comprehend context. But this has changed, thanks to rapid progress in the evolution of AI.

The following is an excerpt from “How to Select the Right AI Platform for Accounting: A Buyer’s Guide and Comparison Worksheet.”

Understanding Document Types

In most companies, employees deal with dozens (if not hundreds) of documents in their accounting departments on a daily basis. An effective AI platform for accounting must have useful document interpretation technology that can separate different types of documents and process the actionable ones. This technology can save significant time and increase productivity.

Invoices, in particular, are often one of the most challenging kinds of documents to process. With invoices, there are no uniform means of submission. Templates can be all over the place. Poorly chosen fonts can sometimes make invoices look like ransom notes. And they may contain missing information -- or too much.

High Accuracy is Imperative

To understand different types of documents and accurately detect the documents to process, the AI technology must deliver high accuracy. If the AI platform you use does not correctly interpret documents, the platform will not be beneficial.

Consider how you use your iPhone or Android smartphone for voice recognition (such as transcription). You speak to your mobile device, and it transcribes your voice into words. But if it takes you longer to correct a message than typing it by hand, there’s no point in using the voice recognition technology.

When it comes to accounting, the AI platform must meet a higher standard for accuracy. An AI platform must save you time—not force you to spend more time correcting the AI than it takes inputting the data manually.

Major Differences Between AI and OCR

Optical character recognition (OCR) technology has been around for more than a decade. But OCR has horrible performance and terrible predictions compared to a well-trained AI platform.

OCR often goes in tandem with manual, cheaper labor, which explains why it can take 12 to 24 hours for documents to be scanned and processed via OCR. With OCR technology, you’ll spend more time double-checking or correcting the data than choosing to enter data manually from the start.

This ability to understand and act quickly and accurately is one of the differentiators between legacy OCR document interpretation technology and modern AI technology. Another crucial difference is that AI eliminates the need to double-check data due to confidence scores.


Has your accounting firm started adapting to the rapid progress in the evolution of AI? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.

To learn more about selecting the right AI platform for accounting that works for you, download your copy of “How to Select the Right AI Platform for Accounting: A Buyer’s Guide and Comparison Worksheet.”

Accounting Has Changed. Is Your Firm Keeping Up? Learn How to Select the Right AI Platform for Accounting

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