How CFOs can maximise the potential of AI

By Thomas Sutter, Industry Director, Finance & Global Solutions, Oracle NetSuite

Following countless years of discussing the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), these technologies are now accessible tools for businesses of all sizes. With AI’s ability to understand, interpret, and organise data, CFOs are among those who stand to benefit the most from implementing this technology.

This is particularly important in today’s ever-evolving financial landscape. As companies struggle to find skilled workers to fill important roles, there’s a growing need for long-term solutions. AI can help on both fronts. Not only can it plug some of these skill gaps, but it can also provide CFOs and their teams with the new capabilities they will need to adapt and stay competitive in today’s environment. 

The opportunities and limits of AI

Regardless of the sector, many organisations are under pressure to achieve more with less and AI and automation go hand in hand in unlocking efficiencies and increasing productivity. In fact, it can automate as much as 40% of the average working day.

Finance professionals could revolutionise their work by leveraging trained AI on their data. This technology can go beyond just automating routine tasks and instead provides rich, actionable insights that can enhance decision-making and introduce productivity gains. It would be like having an assistant that could handle repetitive administrative work while also offering deep, data-driven recommendations to improve team performance.

However, to ensure any AI application fully realises this potential, it must be embedded throughout an organisation’s workflows and applications. Additionally, to provide the most accurate and insightful outputs, it must also be trained on high-quality data from the organisation. This is crucial in enhancing the quality of AI-generated output, as it provides the model with more context on a business’s numbers and performance. For instance, if an AI tool predicts a sudden jump in revenue based on past data and market trends, finance professionals still need to verify this against new product launches or other internal and external factors that the AI tool might not fully account for.

Therefore, it is crucial to provide proper training to employees on how to use AI tools responsibly and effectively. After all, the quality of AI insights is only as good as the data they are based on.

Skills for finance experts in the AI era

It’s clear that AI can be a powerful tool for CFOs and their teams, and it’s worth investing in the skills required to work effectively alongside AI. This technology can go beyond just alleviating administrative burdens. Instead, it can act as a powerful skill multiplier for finance teams when combined with their in-depth real-world experience. AI can simplify complex business data sets, which finance professionals can combine with their knowledge of industry nuances to guide decision-making.

Being able to tell a story through visuals can help navigate the swathes of financial data businesses have at their fingertips. This is where data visualisation skills come in. It’s not solely about numbers; it’s about creating a clear and interesting story. This is an essential skill for CFOs who want to explain financial data in a way that is accessible to everyone.

In addition, skills in data science and predictive analytics are the closest CFOs will get to having a crystal ball. These can help predict future trends and forecasts and identify any anomalies in the data. In short, this can allow them to stay one step ahead of their competitors when making decisions.

Effectively working with AI

AI tools can help a CFO level up their strategy too. It allows them to focus on important objectives and adopt an approach that has flexibility and creativity at its core.

As finance teams get used to AI tools, they’ll be better placed to make quick decisions based on accessible insights or limit the risk of fraud.

AI is here to stay, and CFOs have a lot to gain from a strategic adoption of this technology. A collaborative mindset is the foundation for success. By learning and developing these skills in tandem with AI, finance departments will be ready not just to deal with any market changes but to thrive. AI tools will allow CFOs to focus on critical objectives and decide how to best handle the challenges they face. Striking the right balance between human expertise and the skills to tap into the efficiency gains of AI across finance teams will be the key to staying ahead in this AI-driven world.

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