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Our year in stories: 2018

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We’re grateful to be a part of the world’s journey towards AI. Far more than an academic abstraction, 2018 was a leap forward in the practicalities of AI and machine learning across many different applications, with our own vision for the transformation of audit and financial analysis gaining momentum across the globe.

Here are some of the best and brightest spots of our year together in AI.

“ must be developed and used while respecting people’s autonomy, and with the goal of increasing people’s control over their lives and their surroundings.” – Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of AI

The social and ethical challenges of AI are just beginning to be realized, and the recent signing of the Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of AI is a big step forward in providing the framework for responsible technology development. As the first private sector signatory to the Declaration, we reinforced our commitment to responsible, human-centric AI systems.

Through a passion for enabling technology, Samantha Bowling, CPA, CGMA, was named a 2018 Innovative Practitioner by CPA.com. As the first to successfully use AI in auditing for small businesses, non-profits, and local government, Samantha’s firm, Garbelman Winslow, leads the pack in improving processes and reducing the risk of material misstatements.

“We need to figure how to free up more data so that AI can thrive.” – Leon Katsnelson, Director & CTO, Strategic Partnerships and Data Science Ecosystem, IBM, speaking at IMPACT AI

The inaugural IMPACT AI conference was held on May 24th, bringing industry thought leaders and technology experts to an audience of over 550 people. In addition to promoting AI education, the goal of the event was to increase and elevate more women in technology. Watch Navdeep Bains, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development discuss the influence of AI and stay tuned for details on next year’s conference.

Industry reform was a big theme in accounting this year, with scandals for the Big Four and the UK Competition and Markets Authority recommending major shake-ups. Our CEO, Eli Fathi, reminded us how technology can play a critical role in reform.

The first known case of AI helping to investigate a human CPA committing over $2.8M in embezzlement fraud was documented on the ACFE Insights blog.

“AI is transforming the way auditors do business and the exponential pace of change is requiring CPAs to get up to speed quickly.” – Tom Hood, CPA, President & CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs

With dozens of events, webinars, seminars, and forums under our belts in 2018, two notable ones were our AI & the Future of Accounting roadshow, in partnership with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, and our expert CPA panel in December. While the roadshow introduced AI to audiences across eight cities, the expert panel delivered practical advice and recommendations tailored directly for auditors. We were also recognized by industry associations and media this year, including being selected as the Top New Product of 2018 by Accounting Today and the Best Machine Learning Solution for Regulatory Compliance by Central Banking.

After a successful pilot with universities across North America, we launched our University Alliance Program in July to educate and train accounting students on the use of AI in auditing. As this year ends, the momentum will continue into 2019 with more than double the amount of institutions on board, over 1300 students completing the program, and a wealth of new curriculum materials and case studies being generated.

Our partnerships with accounting firms around the world exploded, growing our user base to well over 200 organizations. Relationships such as with Garbelman WinslowKNAV P.A., and Kreston Reeves, solidify the value that AI brings to auditing and help us continually improve the MindBridge platform.

For our development team, 2018 was a year of transition as we went from launching the first release of MindBridge Ai Auditor to continuous delivery of major new features for users. February saw new functionality such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and accounts payable launched at a marquee event in partnership with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service at Canada House in London, UK, while the rest of the year saw delivery of discrete pieces of value for users, such as interim audit reviews, the data ingestion wizard, and the amazing Filter Builder used by auditors to create their own AI-enabled tests and logic.

What will 2019 bring? We firmly believe that AI is still in its revolution stage for many, bringing aboard new players all the time, while others continue to work with AI-based audits every day. We’ll continue to share and educate along the way, and hope that you’ll let us know how we’re doing.