Accenture helps Ireland pilot tax savvy chatbots

24 September 2018 4 min. read

The agency responsible for customs and tax matters in Ireland is piloting an innovative chatbot programme to supply the public with information on such matters. The technology was developed by global consulting firm Accenture.

The Revenue Commissioners, usually referred to simply as Revenue, is the Irish Government agency which is responsible for customs, excise, taxation and related matters. The Revenue Commissioners are accountable to the Minister for Finance.

As the organisation looks to decrease its labour hours and supply customers with information on a 24/7 basis, the tax service body has trialled a chatbots system to support citizens with queries. The Revenue Commissioners’ office for the Republic of Ireland is currently hosting a voice-driven virtual assistant for tax-related services to Irish citizens, amid a large scale trend for digital transformation in Ireland’s public sector.Accenture helps Ireland pilot tax savvy chatbotsChatbots and voice assistants have quickly become a typical route for customer services organisation across the private sector undergoing digital transformations, becoming almost commonplace for the majority of corporate entities with online services. One example of this would be the recent adoption of an AI chatbot to replace call centre staff at Marks & Spencer's, as the firm looks to decrease wage expenditure and improve falling bottom-lines. This aspect of digital transformation is indicative of the disruptive nature some of the latest digital services and technology can have on traditional IT infrastructure and business operations.

The chatbot currently being leveraged by the Revenue Commissioners was developed by business technology consulting firm Accenture, which is currently registered as being headquartered in Ireland, and will use AI to help streamline tax services across the Republic. According to a study back in February, by Accenture, most people in Ireland are becoming more comfortable using AI for government services, with nearly 70% of Irish taxpayers stating they would use AI to improve the accuracy of tax filings.

John Barron, Revenue's CIO, commented, "We are very excited to be piloting this technology at Revenue. We continually work to provide our customers with improved and more efficient service offerings while taking full account of requirements regarding confidentiality and security of data. We recognise the potential benefits of artificial intelligence tools and believe this pilot will help us to identify innovative ways to improve taxpayer interaction and operational efficiency."

David Regan Accenture's Global Managing Director, added, "We have drawn on Accenture's industry knowledge and our experience in the latest digital technologies and methodologies, including AI to develop this service. Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society. Revenue is leading the way with this pilot and we look forward to working with them to ensure success."

The digital design space has become increasingly populated in recent years, as companies and customers begin to increasingly leverage online products, goods and services. This has also led to a number of global consulting industry players buying into the industry, as they seek to offer clients a one stop solution across marketing, user experience and software related background. In 2017 this saw top firms spend $1.2 billion on agency acquisitions in the sector.

Of these firms, Accenture was by far the most prolific – accounting for over $1 billion of that combined fee. 2018 has seen the firm continue its high-spending habits, with the signings of Game of Thrones visual effects team Mackevision, and award winning Irish agency Rothco. As a result, the firm has fulfilled a succession of government orientated work in recent months, most recently seeing Accenture assist the Canadian Government with a new border security app.