It’s a question on the minds of employees around the world: is a machine going to take my job?
The buzz around emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and more—has a lot of people asking that question. There are some tasks that these new technologies will be able to do better than humans, with far fewer mistakes.
For example: suppose you want to optimize cash on hand by getting discounts from your suppliers. Even a small business has dozens of suppliers; a large enterprise might have hundreds of thousands. At that scale, trying to negotiate a discount on every invoice would be impossible for a human being.
Instead, you can use artificial intelligence to analyze supplier behavior. Some of your suppliers might be more likely to offer you a discount if you pay them ahead of schedule. AI can identify those patterns for you—then make recommendations about how and when to take advantage of those discounts. This can be done continuously, as supplier behavior and market conditions change.
This is just one example of a time-consuming task that can be done better by a machine. But it’s not replacing a human job; it’s performing a task that no one else has the time or bandwidth to do.
Finance teams spend too much time turning data and reports into meaningful insight, when they should spend most of their time communicating that insight to the business and providing advice on strategy. Artificial intelligence has the potential to automate much of that data analysis, so finance can spend more time taking action.
The goal is not to replace finance. The goal is to offload the tasks that they spend too much time on today. Finance professionals have excellent analytical and critical thinking skills, and every CFO could benefit from putting those skills to better use.
Emerging technologies are set to profoundly change the way we work. In the next few years, you’ll be able to talk to your business software the same way you talk to Siri or Alexa. The applications that finance teams use every day—like ERP and EPM cloud applications—will have intelligent chatbots embedded in them, acting as digital assistants to help with mundane tasks like pulling up the latest forecast or running a report. Artificial intelligence can be used to analyze “what-if” scenarios and model strategic opportunities, while technologies like blockchain could be used to manage financial assets.
Finance is ideally positioned to lead this new world of work, because they have these critical business skills. Emerging technologies are tools to help finance teams do their jobs better. The key is to separate the hype from the leading-edge strategies that can help you compete and win.
Join us for an in-depth conversation with MIT Technology Review about emerging technologies for the finance function. You’ll learn:
By understanding new technologies and acting as a change agent within their organizations, CFOs will be ideally positioned to build the finance function of the future.