Cognitive Computing

In my last blog, I mentioned that cognitive computing was starting to automate more advanced jobs in the CPA profession. But, what is cognitive computing?  David Powell, IBM Finance & Procurement Services Practices, talked about cognitive computing at our recent PAIB Committee meeting, and I want to share what he said about the subject.

Cognitive computing includes four key attributes:

  • Understand (unstructured data like humans do)
  • Reason (form hypothesis and infer or extract ideas)
  • Learn (sharpen expertise with each interaction – never stop learning)
  • Interact (see, talk & hear to interact with humans in a natural way)

While we CPAs tend to spend a lot of time trying to structure data to make it easier to work with, the reality is that a vast majority of the data out there is unstructured.  We also spend a lot of time analyzing information, which is one type of reasoning.  All CPA experts have developed their expertise over time by seeing similar types of transactions or issues over and over again.  And finally, some people think computers already interact with other human beings in a more natural way than CPAs.

Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you to learning that 50 percent of companies plan to implement cognitive computing in some way in two years, with two-thirds planning to do so in five years.  So how do you prepare for this new world of cognitive computing? It starts with a journey to understand and develop analytics; the farther along you are, the more prepared you will be.  And that puts you as a CPA in a great position, because many of us already live in a world of analytics.

So you have a head-start; take advantage of it.


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