As businesses seek to be more data-driven, it makes perfect sense that CFOs are seeing an expansion of their role. The Office of Finance was data-driven before it was cool. Finance has to report on earnings and expenditures, minimize risk, spot opportunities — they’re the keepers of the biggest data in the organization.
When we talk about expanding the CFO role, then, it’s less a transformation and more the next evolutionary step. CFOs know how to deal with data. The challenge is to analyze more data more efficiently. To truly steer the business strategically, CFOs need to process data from across the organization, distilling mountains of information into insight.
Artificial intelligence is the key to equipping the CFO office to do more with data. AI applications can consolidate data, analyze it, and report on it. This means CFOs spend less time manipulating data and more time generating insights to guide the business.
We asked experts in both Finance and AI for their take on the future of AI in Finance. Here’s what they had to say.
Expert Advice on the Future of AI in Finance
Explore Technology, But Keep Business Outcomes in Mind
“Any function within a company can be faster, cheaper or more efficient using the right approach. This is the majority of the AI being discussed for business application at the moment. Knowing where to start, what AI ‘tool’ to use and what data is valuable are all non-trivial decisions. Any approach needs to include knowledge of how AI works, together with an idea of the value of information trapped in data, and at the same time an understanding of what questions to ask of the business process. This is where a strong team matters and where technical knowledge must be balanced against business knowledge.”
– Oliver Christie, Artificial Intelligence Consultant & Speaker
AI Isn’t Just the Future of Finance. It’s Ready Now.
“In terms of actually running your business better, being able to do real-time pricing, being able to do trading automatically, being able to find rogue suppliers, supplies you are not delivering automatically, those are solutions that are here, they are ready. The technology is proven, they are in production in quite a few places. We’re moving from the innovator to the early adopter stage.”
– David Talby, CTO at Pacific AI
“Artificial intelligence (AI) presents opportunities in every industry to combine human reasoning capabilities with the processing power of a machine. Financial leaders urgently need trustworthy and actionable insights that keep up with innovation while solving customer needs. One big challenge for most people, not just Finance leaders, is the perceived notion that AI is costly, hard to start and is resource intensive (human capital, training time, etc.). The reality is that major advancements are already happening. There are many areas in which AI is of use to a CFO and their team immediately. From Robotics Process Automation to managing payables; AI for contract review and classification; to AI for the Audit processes – ultimately there are out of the box solutions ready to deploy.”
– John Colthart, VP of Growth, MindBridge Ai
Related Reading: John Colthart on How CFOs Can Fully Commit to AI
The Business Goal: AI Empowers Data-Driven Decision Making
“[The goal is] that all routine activities are performed by AI resulting in the accounting department becoming more proficient, productive and capable of taking on more value-added tasks. Ultimately providing the CFO with the better tools to deliver value through insight and analysis.”
– Stuart Pasternak, CFO and Vice President, Gracious Living Capital
“The ideal scenario is that AI starts to play a bigger role in data driven decision making – where we can support a strategy and business execution plan with more concrete data insights.”
– James Myers, Founder & CEO of FP&A Strategy Consulting
CFOs are tasked to take on a larger role in the organization than ever before. AI and machine learning will be instrumental in meeting these new challenges. To learn more about AI in Finance, visit our Activating Imagination resource.