Dec 2016

Chatbots make a move on bookkeeping work

By: Odyssey Automation
Tags: Bots, Chatbots, Offshoring, Outsourcing

Bots and automation is a current theme in our blogs with recent posts discussing whether bots will beat offshoring and robotic process automation.

Automation is an ongoing issue facing Australian accountants and we thought it time to look further into current market offerings from a couple of familiar Australian accounting software houses – Xero and Sage.

Last week Xero announced the launch of the new Xero Advisor Directory powered by an innovative Facebook Messenger chatbot service. The Advisor Directory is also designed with new geo-sensing features. This allows it to showcase partners that are close to the small business owner who’s searching. It’s a bit like yellow pages on steroids, and if you aren’t on the advisor directory then you are going to be invisible.

Heading over to Xero’s offering in the chatbot area, which was announced a few months ago, Xero unveiled an innovative chatbot codenamed Hey Xero that provides small businesses and their advisors with a completely new way to access the Xero ecosystem and their accounting data quickly, from their platform of choice. Chatbot integrates directly with Messenger.

The solution is basically a complementary add-on for Xero which processes all necessary data from your Xero account. Just ask a question to Hey Xero via Facebook Messenger (like ‘What is my bank balance?’) and it will tell you which client of yours owes you money, when your next bill is due and how much money there is on your bank account(s), even attaching a statement of your current financial status.

Sage has also released a chatbot at Sage Summit in late July. Pegg, the smart personal assistant for you business, can help with filing expenses and other tasks. Sage has created a tool that will eradicate the need for paper and time-guzzling data entry, and targets the new generation of businesses that needs a new way of managing their day-to-day processes.

Sage is using Pegg to go after the 65 percent of small businesses that still rely on spreadsheets and manual recording practices.

It may be early days for these chatbots, and both are in or near beta version, but they are available to trial in the market.

From here where will the future take chatbots in the accounting and bookkeeping. Certainly a lot of the manual data entry is being eradicated through online cloud packages interfacing directly with banks, online scanning and other packages/apps. Now it seems the final manual pieces are being hoovered up by chatbots. This may prove devastating to data entry/bookkeeping/lower level jobs in the Australian accounting world.

However, a lot of these changes are being forecast and examined by many of the software houses, Australian accounting bodies, government bodies and larger accounting firms. Head over to Odyssey’s blogs for more information.