Few tech executives have advocated as strongly for the use of artificial intelligence as Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. Although some leaders prefer to focus on AI’s distant potential, Hurd knows AI provides us with many benefits in the here and now. CFOs and other finance professionals are gaining widespread awareness of these benefits now that Oracle ERP Cloud and other core Oracle Cloud suites feature integrated AI in a number of critical strategic functions.
Hurd also understands the potential of AI, but he postulates on closer timelines. He expects 90% of enterprise-scale cloud apps will have integrated AI by 2020, because, “Artificial intelligence appeals to business people first and foremost in the context of what AI’s decision-making and problem-solving capabilities can do for their company, department, or function.”
How can the AI in Oracle ERP Cloud help today’s business leaders predict the future?
At its most basic level, AI promises to eliminate the errors of manual data entry and tabulation. No matter how reliable a person may be, they’re never perfect. Even experienced professionals might have a manual data-entry error rate of 1 to 3 percent, if not higher. The costs of individual errors might be minuscule, but they can quickly affect the bottom line.
By eliminating manual data entry errors through automating the data entry process, you not only save money that might be lost to bad data, but you also free up a significant amount of time. Hurd has said, “Thirty percent of finance organizations' time... [is] spent moving around spreadsheets,” to produce manually-generated reports and insights. With more time to focus on the strategy, finance professionals can turn their attention to future projections through data analytics.
Data analytics also benefit enormously from AI assistance. At Oracle OpenWorld 2018, Hurd pointed out that people need AI’s assistance when it comes to finding meaning in mountains of data: “Automation will reduce the time to do tasks that are just impossible to do by humans today... the amount of data that companies have is beyond the ability of even the most sophisticated data scientist. Not true of machine learning... The ability to turn that into information to help you sell more [and] help you save more—AI will affect both.”
Oracle ERP Cloud users provide real-world results to support these assertions. Fox River Water Reclamation District cut its forecast error rate by 30 percent and reduced its data-collection time by 80 percent with Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud. RCD Espanyol similarly reduced its error rate by more than 25 percent through Oracle ERP Cloud’s AI-driven automation capabilities, which helped it improve organizational productivity by more than 20 percent.
CFOs can also leverage AI capabilities through other Oracle Cloud suites. As Hurd noted in his 2018 HCM World keynote, Oracle has now integrated AI into its HCM Cloud suite, which helps human resources departments source, screen, and hire far more efficiently to fulfill enterprise-scale personnel needs. Once the right people come onboard, Oracle HCM Cloud also helps train, grow, and reward them more efficiently through AI automation, ensuring employees feel valued, build critical skills, and stick around to contribute to the company’s growth.
People love to predict the future, but without good data, these predictions are educated guesswork. AI can’t replace human ingenuity, but it can boost ingenuity by giving us more time, better information, and faster data analysis so we can focus on finding meaning instead of simply crunching numbers.