Traditional accounting company embraces AI tech

SHANGHAI, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Accounting services including audits and tax preparation, which have long relied on human workers, are embracing artificial intelligence (AI).

Ernst & Young (EY), one of the Big Four accounting companies, said "yes" to the advancements brought by the cutting-edge technology, according to EY Global Chief Innovation Officer Jeff Wong.

A technology enthusiast himself, Wong shared his views on AI development and its impact on business with Xinhua during his business trip to Shanghai recently.

For him, AI is not a single technology but a set of methods and tools that can be applied to countless situations in enterprise systems.

Wong expects that in the next three to five years, AI will have a huge impact on a variety of areas such as healthcare, the financial sector and professional services involving traditional accounting companies like EY.

"AI could be a game changer for business generally, and professional services in particular. But actually, we are not disrupted by the new technology. However, we are moving forward and constantly evolving," Wong said.

"AI can alleviate mundane tasks performed by the human workforce so that we can focus more on complex work that ultimately provides a greater level of professional fulfillment, which is absolutely positive," he said.

EY is also making large investments into AI, according to Wong, without giving details.

During his business trip to Shanghai, Wong was impressed by China's AI development, calling it an explosion in creativity and innovation fueled by education improvements, intensified R&D, government policy and the availability of capital.

"In China, everybody seems to be moving in the same direction for the development of AI, on university levels, research levels, the corporate levels and investment levels, which is incredible," Wong added.

Benson Ng, partner of advisory services with EY, also mentioned in the interview with Xinhua that the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published a document on how to foster AI development from 2018 to 2020 on a national level.

"China is a data-rich country, which is a very good starting point. Meanwhile, there are a lot of very encouraging progressions in different provincial governments," Ng said, adding that the municipal government of Shanghai unveiled plans to open up more space for the autonomous driving pilot program.

According to a newly released report from UBS in September, Chinese innovation is helping cast off the doubts over investment and credit toward new growth engineers. Based on government targets and the rate of change on a number of the innovation metrics, China is highly likely to emerge as a major innovating and high value-added economy in the coming decade.