All of this talk about artificial intelligence disrupting our profession has seemed pretty … artificial to this point, hasn’t it?

Sure, the warning signs have been there, if you were paying attention.

IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, and we thought, “Hey … cool! Look what the machine can do!” Then we dismissed it and went back to work.

Fourteen years later, Deep Blue evolved into IBM Watson, and it defeated reigning “Jeopardy” world record-holder Ken Jennings at his own game, and we thought, “Hey … cool! Look what the machine can do!” Then we dismissed it and went back to work.

Just five years after that, KPMG announced it was applying the Watson technology to its entire suite of professional services, including audit, tax, and advisory services, and the accounting and finance world said, “Whoa.”

Even with the entire profession sitting up and taking notice, though, there was an air of “later rather than sooner” blowing through the profession. The prevailing attitude seemed to be, “We need to worry about this … but not now.”

Just 18 months after the KPMG announcement, though, it turns out that, yeah, we do need to worry about this … and now.

Here’s why:

For the past few years, the profession’s largest firms have been pumping money and resources into developing A.I. and cognitive learning solutions that will increase efficiency and productivity while better serving their clients.

Small and mid-size firms, meanwhile, often feel like they’ve been locked outside with their noses pressed against the windows, unable to find either the capacity or the money to take advantage of the latest advances in technology.

Not Samantha Bowling. As a partner with Garbelman Winslow CPAs, she was determined to find a way for her small firm to take advantage of game-changing technologies and play on the same level as the big boys.

She found it with MindBridge AI Auditor, an audit analytics software platform that (a) maximizes audit assurance by leveraging A.I. technology, and (b) doesn’t break the bank. Bowling says MindBridge’s solution is as accessible and affordable for small and mid-size firms as it is for the profession’s largest firms — and it allows Garbelman Winslow auditors to look at all transactions rather than just small samples. That’s a powerful differentiator for the firm.

Welcome to the world of exponential change.

In the interest of transparency, MindBridge AI is a strategic partner of the MACPA’s, and Samantha Bowling is a member of the MACPA’s Board of Directors.

But that doesn’t detract from my main point: Technology that was available and affordable to only the world’s largest firms just 18 months ago is now available to everyone, everywhere, and at a fraction of the cost.

How will you leverage that opportunity? How will you position your organization to take advantage of the opportunities exponential change offers … with the understanding that that change will happen yesterday, not tomorrow?

Get in front of this stuff, people … or you’ll be left woefully behind.