The 4 Biggest Misconceptions About AI and Machine Learning

30th Apr 2019
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Receipt Bank Lauren Harvey

According to the Journal of Accountancy, more than 80% of executives believe artificial intelligence (AI) leads to a competitive advantage. 79% believe it will increase their company’s productivity.

The research has spoken. Yet, with the majority of accountants planning to add AI to their strategy, misconceptions about AI and machine learning abound.

Lauren Harvey, Founding Director of Full Stop Accounts, is perfectly placed to cut through the buzzwords. After studying computational linguistics at university, Lauren went on to run Finance and IT departments in-house before establishing her firm, Full Stop, in 2011. In her upcoming webinar, she takes AI back to basics and unpacks the myths. Here are four of the biggest.


1. AI isn’t accessible.

Rather, it’s quite the contrary. Lauren Harvey founded Full Stop Accounts because of its very accessibility for small businesses.

I set up Full Stop Accounts to get back to what I’ve always enjoyed: helping businesses of all kinds and sizes. Through the likes of Xero and Receipt Bank, I could provide services to a select set of clients,” says Lauren. “I managed up to thirty clients through using tech efficiently and managing those relationships. Since having two children, we now have a team that work with a wider client-base.”

Thanks to the introduction of smartphones and the proliferation of data, much of what Lauren studied at university has moved from concept to reality.

“Now, everyone is entering data almost every second. This proliferation of data has been the tipping point,” says Lauren. “Right now, the nature of the market means we can capture data efficiently and present it in a different way. In fact, I couldn’t be running my business without Xero and Receipt Bank, and the data that’s enabled me to capture.”


2. AI can do everything.

“We’re only at the tip of the iceberg on what machine learning can do,” says Lauren. “It’s crucial to know the barrier between AI and the personal, and not assume that a computer can deal with it. You have to know its limitations, and keep relationships paramount.”

“For instance, we tried out an AI-powered virtual assistant a couple of years ago, which really demonstrated the importance of investing in communication. Computers are really good at knowing what’s in your calendar, but they’re not so good at developing a friendship or making small talk over email. Sending an email might seem simple, but it’s a big part of getting people interested and enjoying your company.”


3. Your clients won’t trust the technology.

Arguably, AI has captured people’s imagination more than any other technological advancement in recent years. It ranges from concern on its ethics and transparency to the other extreme: a fear that without clear guidelines and restrictions, an AI could become too intelligent.

“It takes a lot of time to manage expectations on what AI is. In the early days, we talked a lot about Xero and Receipt Bank. Yet, the last few years, we haven’t needed to educate people as much on what cloud accounting is and what it does,” says Lauren.

“In the early days, there was also a lot of pushback on security. People didn’t want to have their data in different places. Now, data - and AI - really is everywhere. Most people know that when they start working with an accountant, they’ll need to give access to their banking data and invoices. People trust data capture a lot more now, and see it as commonplace.”


4. AI will help sell your services.

Dropping AI into the conversation can confuse things. Instead, Lauren shifts the focus onto everything AI results in.

“Sometimes when I talk to clients about tech, I lose their interest; it’s a block. Recently, we have been rephrasing tech into process, and process into results. They don’t want to hear about accounting jargon, AI and machine learning. They want to hear about results, simplicity, elegance and enjoyable relationships.



Hear from founding director, Lauren Harvey, on what AI is, what it can do and where it fits in the accounting industry. Sign up to her webinar, AI and the Accountant: Going Beyond the Myths, to explore how to:

  • Use the digital ecosystem to give more value to clients;
  • Strengthen your client relationships with more real-time data;
  • Build the lifestyle you want.

With AI, 25-hour weeks, having a family and running an award-winning accountancy practice is now finally a possibility. Register now to secure your place and find out how.