One of the most effective and intimidating advancements in finance is the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the industry with streamlined processes. As technology continues to advance, there seems to be a growing fear that AI will replace humans in every conceivable professional field.
CFO’s love the efficiency and bottom-line savings while workers fret that a robot will take their department hostage. It’s time to discern what’s really at stake when robo-automation and artificial intelligence take over.
Finance has traditionally been transactional and process-oriented to furnish the business goals. The work got done and the discrepancies that piled up were resolved and dealt with.
“30 days” became the standard response tag for any finance-related matter in almost any organization. With the digital transformation imbuing all sectors of business, it made sense that finance and accounting would garner the largest benefit. After all, it spends a majority of time and effort processing transactions.
Robots Will Replace Humans? Not So Fast
It’s obvious that the onslaught of new and improved automation in accounting and finance departments is growing at a rapid speed. Some of your people may wonder if they’re still on the corporate roster as their jobs are routinely performing all the mundane, repetitive tasks relegated to finance. However, finance leaders are more than just intelligence and computative experts.
First, humans are needed to run, digest, interpret and analyze the data the technology produces. Second, these statistical and analytical minds are strategic, individualized, and nuanced in their thinking. Using your best minds with efficient technology will set you up for success. Machine Learning is constantly learning and improving and there are always opportunities to get better.
The key to the digital transformation of accounting and financing is pairing people and machines together allowing each one to contribute in areas where they are best skilled.
A professor at the London School of Economics Leslie Willcocks said when using RPA or robotic process automation, “It takes the robot out of the human.”
AI Imitates the Human Brain
Nothing can compete with the spectacular genius of the world’s most intricate computer, the human brain. Accounting and finance professionals like to take credit for implementing smart software when talking with their stakeholders.
Investing in these technologies is just one part of the financial puzzle involving fraud detection, cash leakage, data errors, and compliance violations. But the real intelligence comes with a meld of the two, for a symbiotic relationship that interprets data to make stronger, insightful outcomes.
Using artificial intelligence, finance professionals can improve productivity and focus less on the tactical tasks at hand. Replacing humans from the monotonous job of extracting, organizing, and structuring the data is the beauty of utilizing such technology. A great example is when companies implement automated auditing and compliance monitoring system like Oversight to take over the manual work that auditors have done for decades. The human auditors are not being replaced; they’re simply offloading tedious data crunching to a system that will bring them issues requiring human decision-making.
That said, an essential characteristic of technology such as AI is its ability to “learn” from the humans who resolve the problems the system flags. These exceptions are opportunities for machine learning to learn by one of two means:
By independently tracking and understanding what humans do with the findings it brings them (called implicit machine learning)
By humans guiding the knowledge engineering directly
The biggest challenge companies face when implementing an automated auditing system is staying focused on using the data generated by the solution, not just having it.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Utilizing AI technology encourages a growth mindset for all employees. It can effortlessly analyze data and write scripts to automate tasks without requiring a human. An advantage of using machine learning is the ability to digest data easily while having the ability to identify risky outliers.
Auditors can work smarter with digital files and save their mental bandwidth to analyze broader and more nuanced exceptions that need to be addressed. Humans truly have the chance to continually improve their processes through the magic of machine learning.
They can teach it what data to look for and how to organize it. Then the auditors can interpret and investigate. Taking on the tedious work of data entry and reconciliation helps eliminate errors, reducing liability. With the mundane tasks handled, finance teams will be free to focus on the more strategic initiatives at hand.
You may learn something working with one customer that suddenly makes sense with other customers, so you roll that process out with others. That is not a decision machine learning could have made, but since you made it, your system is learning from you.
Reassure Your Team
With machines taking care of the mind-numbing and monotonous tasks, human accounting and financial professionals are free to take on tasks they are better suited for. Using their higher-level brainpower to focus on the more strategic initiatives.
Invest in the best possible human capital and employ effective technology. Then reassure your team humans are essential for AI to function at its peak potential. When they can see it all and spot the patterns, they will steer the future.
Want to learn more about Oversight capabilities? Subscribe and follow along with our Nothing Gets by You Now Blog Series or visit our website to learn more about how our AI platform can help you automate manual processes and empower you to See It All. Spot The Patterns. Steer The Future.