The role of the CFO is changing rapidly. From looking to the past and checking the books. To predicting the future and becoming the valued advisor of the CEO, management, and the board. Artificial intelligence is boosting this fundamental change in the role. And while it can be daunting to have a robot change your job, it also offers a unique opportunity for the ambitious CFO. Here is why.
Artificial intelligence is coming, and it is coming fast. The global artificial intelligence market size was valued at USD 62.35 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.2% from 2021 to 2028. Furthermore, the global accounts payable automation market was valued at USD 2 billion in 2019 and is estimated to reach USD 4 billion by 2026, expanding at a CAGR of 11% during the forecast period, 2020 – 2026. The growth of the market is attributed to rising demand for controlled user access to decrease frauds related to payment and reduce time spent on accounting.
Data from The Hackett Group’s most recent Purchase-to-Pay Performance Study shows that organizations with high levels of AP automation save 43% on invoice processing costs.
Dubbed the next industrial revolution, there is no question that machine learning will have a profound impact on a wide array of businesses in the very near future.
One of the industries predicted to be affected the most is finance, and the role of the CFO in particular.
This is not a bad thing. In fact, it offers you a unique advantage. Let me tell you why.
Historically, the role of the CFO has been one of looking back at the past, making sure that the books were in order.
However, the CFO of the future is a watchdog, looking into the future, predicting challenges, assessing risks, spotting new growth potential, and eliminating any surprises – both pleasant and unpleasant.
Instead of crunching numbers in the engine room, you will find the CFO of tomorrow on the bridge, right next to the CEO. Instead of checking the numbers, the CFO owns them and uses them to create forecasts, guide management on reading data, and to show how data can drive the company towards its goals.
To handle this responsibility effectively, the CFO needs to have an overview of the company’s past results, present challenges, and future goals while also keeping a close eye on the competition, markets, politics, world events, and other factors that play into the development of the company.
This is no small feat and requires the CFOs to lift their perspective way up high. Crunching numbers in the engine room will not help them do that. But implementing an AI solution will. According to the EY 2020 Global Tax and Transformation Survey, typical tax teams use up to 70% of their working time on tasks that can easily be done by AI within a much shorter time. Making it possible for the company to save a large amount of money and provide the tax teams with various other value-creating work tasks.
The idea of integrating new tools into old tasks to do them faster is not new. Multiple statistics have already shown that AI can increase business productivity by 40%. Moreover, Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise survey shows that 65% report that AI technologies are enabling their organizations to move ahead of the competition, viewing AI as critically important to their business success.
What is new is the industries and jobs that the technological advantages are revolutionizing. And the fact that instead of replacing the human workforce altogether, solutions such as AI will take on the role of coworkers that handle repetitive tasks, freeing time for humans to take on new challenges.
This becomes especially apparent when you look at finance departments and CFOs. CFOs are meant for greater things than just keeping scores. They have an immensely valuable pool of information and insight that can help companies make better and faster strategic decisions.
Better yet, the CFO of tomorrow is in high demand. Your time is right now, and if you are an ambitious CFO who does not want to miss the chance of becoming a strategic business partner, artificial intelligence is the way forward for you.
I believe that all ambitious CFOs should be looking for ways to automate manual processes using AI.
Still, many hold back.
As the CEO of Kaunt, a Nordic fintech company that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to improve financial processes for a wide selection of clients, I see some of the typical problems that prevent CFOs from unfolding their true potential.
Usually the issue is that the CFO gets tangled up in administration and inhibited by poor-quality data. They report on what happened in the past, not on what might be coming in the future, use valuable time and talent on tedious routines that do not add value, and waste energy and brilliance that could be put to much better use. Thus, missing the chance of becoming a key strategic business partners for the CEO, board, and overall management.
Artificial intelligence is the obvious solution to that problem. After all, it adds an entirely new dimension to the automation agenda because it gives systems the ability to detect patterns and improve procedures as it gets more and more jobs done.
Automation is no longer just about robots. It is about robots with brains and the capacity to adapt. The future is an augmented workforce where humans and machines work side by side.
Ernst & Young argues that as CFO, you are uniquely positioned to lead a shift into digitization. Not just for your finance department but on a broader organizational scale that involves the entire company.
I could not agree more.
You see, as CFO, you have insight into all business units. You can help managers from every part of the organization understand the why of financial data, not just the what – ultimately leading to more intelligent business decisions throughout the enterprise.
Sure you can settle for less than the optimal solution and have a rule-based automation system that saves time and money for you, but why not choose artificial intelligence?
AI injects the learning ability into your automatic processes, making them grow in competence and giving them the ability to create value.
Take Kaunt, for instance.
As the only supplier in Denmark, we offer an Accounts Payable Automation solution strictly driven by artificial intelligence, where each step from setup to operation and ongoing surveillance is 100% automated – making your accounting easier, better, and more effective through automation.
Our Accounts Payable Automation solution is of low complexity and low touch, making it simple, user-friendly, and seamless to integrate into your existing ERP-system, and furthermore we supply you with fully supported customer support after onboarding.
Our experience from multiple enterprises is that up to 80% of their accounts payable can be automated using AI, no manual setup of rules or templates required. Integration and onboarding happen in a few days, or few weeks, and once deployed, your organization does not have to maintain the solution as it is self-learning.
Essentially, Kaunt frees up time and resources for you and your team that can be better spent elsewhere – for instance on analyzing results, gaining insights into the company, finding ways to grow the business, or gaining new knowledge of trends and developments on a global scale. Furthermore, using AI as a tool will increase your data quality, speed up access to real-time data, meaning better reporting, and not least, working with groundbreaking technology is a great way of attracting future talent.
The atomization lets you retrieve numbers in real-time, helping you get an overview and offer proper advice when management needs to act fast. And imagine being able to analyze the books halfway through the month and discover a potential problem. Then having the time and resources freed to gain perspective and information that you can turn into valuable strategic advice on what measures to take to change the forecast and fix the issue.
This is what it means to unfold your true potential as the CFO of tomorrow.
Kaunt and artificial intelligence can help you achieve that goal.
Obviously, Kaunt is ISO 27001-certified as well as GDPR-certified, and every year we order an ISAE 3402 statement, so that you’re absolutely home-free. If you would like to start automated accounting, or if you have burning questions about Kaunt, you’re more that welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org / +45 20 69 18 68 or book a short demo via this link: Book a meeting with kaunt.