I truly love innovation. The sooner the better, but I consider all the stories about artificial intelligence and robotics still science fiction when this is discussed in connection to indirect tax.
A critical condition for success would be that ERP systems supported by tax technology could actually present real-time all the company's (intercompany) business transactions.
However, real-time access to a company's blue print is often a recurring bottleneck during business model change (see example 'Commissionaire to LRD'). Certain consultancy firms perform such transaction mapping exercises still via interviews.
Without access to a complete data set, is artificial intelligence not useless?
Automating the adviser
That being said I think much more can be automated and will be automated. I published in February 17, 2012 my article 'Google the (tax) adviser of the future': [Time stamp 2012!]
I am following the developments of Apple’s Siri of and of Google in general with great interest. Siri is the speech recognition engine that Apple uses as a virtual personal assistant for their devices.
The software truly understands your questions, searches the web and provides you with answers immediately.
Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has conceded that Siri could pose a “competitive threat” to the company’s core search business.
If that is the case, is it not realistic to assume that Google and/or other companies are going to invest a considerable amount of money in developing similar functionalities?
Such competition between these powerhouses will boost technology improvement.
- Will such technology in the end truly understand all your technical questions?
- Is a virtual personal assistant going to respond immediately?
- Is this science fiction or our near future?
I am aware that some people will argue that certain knowhow depends on individual skill sets and expertise.
For the moment, they are right, but they might be proven wrong in the future.
Can this also be automated?
What successful examples relate to strategic insight and decision-making?
Chess is a strategic game and relates on fact-based information (pieces on the chess board: relevant facts) and a number of possibilities (moves: calculation of the impact of various options combined with overall strategic insight).
- If a chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, can beat world champion Gary Kasparov in a six-game match by two to one with three draws against, shouldn’t the automation of an adviser’s strategic decision-making also be possible?
- Deep Blue’s successor - Watson - has beaten Jeopardy champions at their own game. What was needed to make that happen: “natural language processing, searching immense data sets and creating relationships among disparate sources of information to finally culminate in an answer.”
The good news is that the profession of service providing is a people business.
We like to be connected to people.
Maybe the statement about automating the adviser is a bit too provocative, but I still believe a lot more can be automated than we can currently comprehend. Having an open mind is the message I want to get across.
The only things that probably cannot be automated are our feelings and interactions.
That is why it is and will remain a people business.
Last but not least, I don’t pretend to write the strategy plan for Google. I just admire companies like Google, Apple and Virgin for their innovations and culture. In this blog “Google” represents companies that are technology innovators. The future adviser could therefore be somebody else.
Do you agree?
Source: From tax strategy to artificial intelligence to automating the tax adviser | Richard H. Cornelisse | Pulse | LinkedIn