Natural language processing (NLP) is a technology that allows computers to understand and process human language. Processing of natural language is necessary when you want an intelligent device to follow your instructions. NPL is an artificial intelligence (AI) component with many real-life applications.
As technology advances, business leaders have to figure out how to tap into the new trends to remain relevant, stay ahead of competition, and meet consumer expectations and needs.
How NLP Works in Brief
NLP involves making computers perform tasks with the natural language humans use. The input and output can be spoken or written text. NLP combines computational linguistics – rule-based modeling of human language – with statistical, machine learning, and deep learning models.
NLP aims to build machines that understand and react to text or voice data and then respond with text or speech in a similar manner as humans do. Examples of NLP in real life include voice-operated GPS systems, personal assistant apps, speech-to-text dictation software, and customer service chatbots.
As businesses seek better ways to improve efficiency, NLP is one technology promising huge rewards for enterprises dealing with vast quantities of unstructured text. In accounting, unstructured data include transaction descriptions, invoices, written communication, etc.
The use of NLP is growing significantly in enterprise solutions designed to help streamline business operations. Large companies such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have implemented various NLP solutions. A good example is Deloitte, which incorporated NLP into its Audit Command Language to improve contract compliance.
How NLP Can Improve the Efficiency of Accounting Processes
Areas in which NLP helps improve efficiency include:
- Forensic Investigations
When CPAs want to perform forensic investigations, they have to deal with significant amounts of data from documents such as bank statements, transaction data tables, and data found in emails or deposition transcripts. Analyzing all the data as they try to look for specific patterns or gain insights is challenging. However, the application of NLP can be helpful in the investigative analysis process. NLP using algorithms can identify patterns automatically and reduce the time it would have taken to analyze the documents.
- Accounting and Auditing
Auditing is challenging due to the process of reviewing financial statements and ensuring they match regulations and legal standards. Auditors must have excellent analytical and decision-making skills to spot inaccuracies in financial statements. However, NLP helps to optimize the auditing process.
- Financial Analysis and Automated Generation of Financial Reports
NLP can automatically extract financial data from balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. This can cut down on time and error-prone work. At the same time, it can obtain insights from massive financial data sets and financial reports. This enables accountants to make data-driven decisions and quickly identify trends and patterns in the data, hence, making it easy to provide guidance to clients on investments and household finances.
- Automated Data Entry
NLP can be used to extract data automatically from unstructured text documents, including bills and receipts. It also can be used to automate the entry of data from tax documents and input it into accounting systems. This can cut down on time and error-prone work.
- Improve Centralized Data Management Solutions
Incorporating NLP in accounting and procurement helps improve the ability of a centralized data management system to collect and integrate data from different sources. This enables standardization and collaboration. Additionally, the data provided has higher-quality insights. As a result, there is better financial planning and improved risk assessment and management.
- Customer Interaction
NLP can be used to enhance the effectiveness of customer interaction. This is done by automating the procedure for responding to client inquiries, such as concerning invoices, payments, and account balances.
Natural language processing is proving to be a powerful technology that can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of accounting processes. As it continues to evolve, it will likely become an increasingly important tool for accountants and other financial professionals. Most importantly, these advanced technologies take care of manually reviewing unstructured data. This helps businesses scale and – at the same time – reduce costs.