CPA Practice Advisor

OCT 2018

Today's Technology for Tomorrow's Firm.

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6 OCTOBER 2018 ■ RANDY JOHNSTON EVP & Partner K2 Enterprises & CEO of Network Management Group, Inc. @RPJohnston FROM THE TRENCHES THE WHY AND HOW OF BOTS for Accounting Firms Engagement with clients and leveraging your brand is done easier and made stronger with bots. This emerging technology has promise today and in the future. While applying some bot technology may be more technically difficult without outside assistance, others are ready-to-implement with little tech assistance needed. Further, we don’t expect vendors to have canned bot applications broadly available for the practice of accounting, although one of our favorite examples is a robotic bookkeeper that has been written to reduce bookkeeping functions by automating repetitive tasks. Some bots communicate with other users of internet-based services, via instant messaging (IM), Internet Relay Chat (IRC), or another web interface such as Facebook bots and Twitterbots. The history of social botting can be traced back to Alan Turing in the 1950s and his vision of designing sets of instructional code that passes the Turing test. From 1964 to 1966, ELIZA, a natural language processing computer program created by Joseph Weizenbaum operated as a simple bot and was able to perform simple, although “mechanical” interactions with users. A number of companies have taken advantage of the interactive tool Slack and added a number of bots that have been created to augment the capability of Slack. Like all the emerging technologies we have covered in these emerging technology columns, bots has pros and cons. On the positive side: ■ Bots are a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet ■ Bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone ■ Some bots are “good” – e.g. search engine spiders – while others can be used to launch malicious and harsh attacks, most notably, in political campaigns On the down side: ■ The most widely used anti-bot technique is the use of CAPTCHA, which is a form of Turing test used to distinguish between a human user and a less-sophisticated AI-powered bot. You’ve probably done this where you have to match all the pictures of bridges or all the pictures containing a flower or a sign to validate your login to a website. ■ Security can be questionable with the wrong authoring tool set ■ Interruption by the bot could be an aggravation rather than a help And there are clearly some risks,

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