Classic science fiction portrayed artificial intelligence in all kinds of ways, but mostly as a warning. The robots are coming — and they’ve realised they can do things better than us! No need for puny humans any more!
Now that artificial intelligence is a reality and is part of our everyday lives, the truth is more prosaic. Artificial intelligence –popularly known as AI — is empowering and enabling humans, whether that’s within our personal lives or workplaces.
The world of business finance is not immune and Sage has been at the forefront of recent breakthroughs.
We’re experiencing two AI revolutions right now. The first is the rise of the chatbot. Many of us have this in our pocket in the form of Siri on Apple’s iPhones, or Google Now on Android phones. You ask a question (“What’s the weather?”) or make a request (“Remind me to carry an umbrella”), and the chatbot responds appropriately.
Sage has introduced the world’s first accounting chatbot, called Pegg. Accessible through Facebook Messenger or Skype, Pegg makes managing your business finances as easy to sending a text. Received some income? Just tell Pegg. Made a purchase? Just tell Pegg. It literally takes seconds, and Pegg always knows your balance. While Pegg can optionally integrate with the Sage One small business accounting solution, it’s free for anybody to use.
But chatbots are just the start. The second revolutionary technology is machine learning. This is where computers figure out how to do things without being explicitly programmed to do so. On an everyday level this means computers learn all about how we behave, so can make predictions in future. This allows Google’s driverless cars to avoiding crashing, at one level, but it also means Netflix is able to recommend shows and movies it knows you’ll enjoy. The magic of machine learning is that’s invisible to the user. To we humans, the computer just seems to be smarter than we might ordinarily expect.
Sage has already embraced the machine learning revolution across its products. As just one example, Sage’s Bank Feed Manager, a component of the larger Sage Accounting Cloud platform, is able to learn as transactions are manually classified, so that it eventually takes care of things for you. As a result you spend less time working on your finances.
There’s more to come, of course, and a key feature of any revolution – especially those surrounding technology – is that they’re unstoppable. For example, 40% of businesses surveyed by the Accenture Institute for High Performance in a 2016 study are already using machine learning to improve sales and marketing performance. Coupled to cloud computing and deep learning, which form the other parts of the overall AI picture, Sage believe in what it calls invisible accounting – a seamless and automated accounting process, and an era where fast and responsive accounting is a reality. The end result for businesses is that they simply have more time to dedicate to core activities, and need to spend less time considering the financials. Who wouldn’t like that?