Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming business models, processes, operations and customer relationships—and in so doing, elevating the analytical and advisory responsibilities of finance professionals and reshaping the skills and competencies they need to create value for the business. Recently, Deloitte, in conjunction with Workday and AICPA-CIMA, sponsored the Workday Intelligent Finance Tour. During the Tour, influencers and decision makers across the office of the CFO (oCFO) and the office of the CIO (oCIO) weighed in on how intelligent technologies can help Finance leaders transform their organisations from standard functionality to dynamic capability.
Finance organisations are at an inflection point with AI and ML where these innovative technologies can be applied to key financial management and accounting processes to interrogate data, detect risks and drive efficiencies. Far from being just the latest round of robotic process automation, the oCFO is increasingly turning to AI and ML to co-create the future of Finance.For many Finance organisations, this means enhancing maturity across the seven principles outlined in Deloitte Consulting’s Crunch Time report on Dynamic Finance. This often includes reimagining and redesigning processes to be performed by machines; and securing the tech-savvy talent and strong data governance needed to generate insights that are both trustworthy and actionable.
Where do you start if you’re considering intelligent automation in your Finance organisation? Speakers pointed to several use cases as potential starting points: 1) expense receipt scanning and monitoring; 2) journal insights, which uses ML to detect and surface journal anomalies; 3) supplier invoice automation and 4) supplier contract semantic search, which allows users to search contracts using related terms rather than exact match. They further explained that these areas can help the organisation manage risk, which is a hot-button issue for the board and management. Furthermore, these use cases are relatively straightforward to implement since the necessary intelligent capabilities are embedded into the Workday platform.
As predictive technologies that are powered by AI and ML become more pervasive, what kind of skills will be needed within the Finance organisation to take advantage of them? While data scientists are not required in order to use Workday’s embedded AI and ML features effectively, speakers anticipate that more people who understand both finance and technology will be necessary in the future. To that end, some organisations may need to invest in reskilling certain resources to achieve a better balance. Speakers also noted that using algorithmic or machine-learning forecasting requires some education around what it is and what it's not. You don’t need to be a data scientist, but you need to understand the capabilities, its biases and how to engage it in a trustworthy way. Ultimately, AI can become part of the way your team does its work, but it can’t do all the work for you. Read the full report to learn more about how Workday and Deloitte are advancing the Finance function with AI.
Intelligent finance allows finance professionals to solve problems and add value to the business since they’re no longer spending 90% of their time just reconciling data and processing transactions.
Eric Merrill, Managing Director, Finance and Enterprise Performance, Deloitte Consulting
Today, the oCFO spends a lot of time zooming in on how to do things more efficiently, but I’d encourage you to zoom out to consider how to create value more effectively
Ajit Kambil, author, “The Leadership Accelerator” and Transition Lab Innovation Leader of Executive Accelerators at Deloitte LLP