As a business owner there’s never a dull moment. From serving customers on the shop floor to managing the back office, it can be difficult to prioritise those tasks that really count. And with so much going on, it doesn’t make sense to spend hours on unnecessary paperwork or manual processes such as bookkeeping data entry.
Increasingly, UK businesses are turning to AI-based software to simplify tasks like these. In fact, the government plans to drive AI adoption as part of its Industrial Strategy to help businesses increase their productivity and mobility. Those that embrace digital innovation will be able to work much more efficiently, helping to boost the economy and grow their own margins. So how can business owners get started?
Since Alan Turing created the ‘Turing Test’ in the 50s, AI has developed rapidly and gained mainstream attention. In recent years, AI has been built into many consumer and enterprise applications, and its increased sophistication and availability means that many businesses now use technology to automate processes. Over 80% of businesses believe that AI gives them a competitive edge, with research finding that the most digitally capable businesses are twice as likely to increase turnover than the least digitally capable.
AI can be used across almost any business function, from sales and HR to finance and bookkeeping. It can have enormous impact on areas such as customer engagement and new business marketing, by aggregating and analysing data across multiple customer touch points to help management spot trends and keep users engaged.
AI is also invaluable in helping businesses reduce time spent on repetitive administrative processes, such as bookkeeping data entry. Manual data entry takes up time and money businesses could spend with customers or in developing their services. And by typing up data by hand, businesses also risk making mistakes which may be picked up by the revenue or will lead to extra expense for an accountant to reconcile.
Powered by AI, AutoEntry is helping thousands of business owners worldwide to become more efficient by eliminating this task. It works by capturing and analysing scanned and photographed paper documents including bank and credit card statements, bills, invoices, expenses, receipts and more, accurately automating data entry into accounting software, including QuickBooks, Sage and Xero. Simply scan, take a photo with the mobile app, or send documents via email and AutoEntry will do the rest. Once AutoEntry has captured and entered this data, it creates a digital record of the image and attaches it to the transaction into accounting software. Businesses will no longer need to store physical copies, so they can reduce their consumption of paper and save on printing costs.
As well as simplifying bookkeeping, using this type of software will help businesses to more easily comply with HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) which comes into effect on April 1st 2019. MTD signifies an end to the traditional tax return for VAT-registered organisations with a taxable turnover above £85,000. Moving forward, these businesses will need to submit digital tax returns to HMRC using MTD-compatible software.
Digital VAT returns must be generated from digital records, so using bookkeeping solutions such as AutoEntry will be increasingly relevant. This type of software can accurately and securely store financial records for users, and for up to six years, as required by the legislation.
The conscientious handling of data is also key to the GDPR, following its introduction last May. The GDPR requires businesses to closely manage the personal data they hold for customers, employees and suppliers (i.e. information that could lead to an individual being identified) and track this information in an electronic format. Therefore, using GDPR-compliant software such as AutoEntry can help businesses to more easily keep track of their financial data and third party transactions.
Despite the evident gains, some businesses are still slow to adopt digital working. And by not leveraging the power of AI and automation they may find themselves losing out to competitors who are putting tech innovation at the heart of business growth.
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to apply AI is by eliminating bookkeeping data entry. So when planning for 2019, businesses should dedicate some budget towards investing in data automation software. By reducing unnecessary paperwork and letting smart tools manage the books, they’ll be able to spend more time crafting their brand and building their influence.