Six notable benefits of AI in finance, and what they mean for humans – Daily Maverick

Posted: September 20, 2020 at 10:55 pm


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Addressing AI anxiety

A common narrative around emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and robotic process automation is the anxiety and fear that theyll replace humans. In South Africa, with an unemployment rate of over 30%, these concerns are valid.

But if we dig deep into what we can do with AI, we learn it will elevate the work that humans do, making it more valuable than ever.

Sage research found that most senior financial decision-makers (90%) are comfortable with automation performing more of their day-to-day accounting tasks in the future, and 40% believe that AI and machine learning (ML) will improve forecasting and financial planning.

Whats more, two-thirds of respondents expect emerging technology to audit results continuously and to automate period-end reporting and corporate audits, reducing time to close in the process.

The key to realising these benefits is to secure buy-in from the entire organisation. With 87% of CFOs now playing a hands-on role in digital transformation, their perspective on technology is key to creating a digitally receptive team culture. And their leadership is vital in ensuring their organisations maximise their technology investments. Until employees make the same mindset shift as CFOs have, theyll need to be guided and reassured about the businesss automation strategy and the potential for upskilling.

Six benefits of AI in laymans terms

Speaking during an exclusive virtual event to announce the results of the CFO 3.0 research, as well as the launch of Sage Intacct in South Africa, Aaron Harris, CTO for the Sage, said one reason for the misperception about AIs impact on business and labour is that SaaS companies too often speak in technical jargon.

We talk about AI and machine learning as if theyre these magical capabilities, but we dont actually explain what they do and what problems they solve. We dont put it into terms that matter for business leaders and labour. We dont do a good job as an industry, explaining that machine learning isnt an outcome we should be looking to achieve its the technology that enables business outcomes, like efficiency gains and smarter predictive analytics.

For Harris, AI has remarkable benefits in six key areas:

Digital culture champions

Evolving from a traditional management style that relied on intuition, to a more contemporary one based on data-driven evidence, can be a culturally disruptive process. Interestingly, driving a cultural change wasnt a concern for most South African CFOs, with 73% saying their organisations are ready for more automation.

In fact, AI holds no fear for senior financial decision-makers: over two-thirds are not at all concerned about it, and only one in 10 believe that it will take away jobs.

So, how can businesses reimagine the work of humans when software bots are taking care of all the repetitive work?

How can we leverage the unique skills of humans, like collaboration, contextual understanding, and empathy?

The future world is a world of connections, says Harris. It will be about connecting humans in ways that allow them to work at a higher level. It will be about connecting businesses across their ecosystems so that they can implement digital business models to effectively and competitively operate in their markets. And it will be about creating connections across technology so that traditional, monolithic experiences are replaced with modern ones that reflect new ways of working and that are tailored to how individuals and humans will be most effective in this world.

New world of work

We can envision this world across three areas:

Sharing knowledge and timelines on strategic developments and explaining the significance of these changes will help CFOs to alleviate the fear of the unknown.

Technology may be the enabler driving this change, but how it transforms a business lies with those who are bold enough to take the lead. DM

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Six notable benefits of AI in finance, and what they mean for humans - Daily Maverick

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September 20th, 2020 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Machine Learning