The Dawn of a New Era in Finance: Navigating AI, Robotics and Global Shifts

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Finance

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” – Roy Amara American researcher.

Our Finance world is changing – we hear about the effects of AI and robots impacting our lives, but it’s different when you see it so black and white, clearly presented in the latest report from the World Economic Forum. The Future of Jobs report 2018 (World Economic Forum) captures the change in workforce. Relax, surprisingly it’s not all doom and gloom – on a whole, emerging roles are forecast to grow faster than declining roles adding an addition 58M roles by 2022
What does this mean for Finance? Tradition jobs disappearing.

It’s clear that we are not immune from Robotmageddon. The more repetitive tasks, like Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll are the second fastest declining function, while even traditional accounting and auditing roles made it onto the top 10 declining list. Of the emerging roles: data analytics & data science and AI & machine learning specialists make it onto the list as first and second respectively. Followed by big data specialist, digital transformation and new technology specialists.

How is your Finance organization changing to meet these trends?

As with all transformations to be successful there need to be a few key elements of focus based on data. If Finance is a dinosaur, the Ice Age is here. If Finance is data driven, agile and aware, it can take a leadership role. If you choose evolution over extinction, here’s 5 key evolutionary points. “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” – W. Edwards Deming

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Define a vision and strategy: Know where you are going! Finance leaders need to have a clear vision on how they will take advantage of these new technologies. Your organization will make the changes; FP&A should have a clear vision, strategy and data to light the way ahead.

Secure Sponsorship and Support: Fortunes favor the prepared. We’re already starting to see Finance executives gearing up for this change.  In Protiviti’s latest Finance Trends Survey, finance officials (CxO’s) identified FP&A as the highest priority for improving knowledge and capabilities over the next year [2019]. Make a strong case to partner in change with your IT leadership.

Take control: Put an end to backseat driving: We are seeing a new trend: the lines between IT and Finance are blurring.Finance organizations are taking a larger role in the digital transformation. They are hiring more technical skills people into the finance function. Including positions in  Master Data Management, Database specialists, Data Scientists and Digital Transformation Specialists are all now forming an integral part of the Finance function. We are seeing new functions emerging, like the Center of Analytic and Planning Excellence, to standardize and manage this overall digital transformation.

Design thinking: It’s time to adapt…or die. Simply put, yesterday’s thinking will not solve tomorrow’s problems. The company is changing, its individuals (making up each department) must evolve. WEF’s The Future of Jobs report goes on to say that skills such as analytical thinking and active learning will play a more important role; design thinking is the future.

Measuring Value: Data is power. Without a clear measurement, the ROI of the investment will be hard to justify. Measurement of the value of analytics and the returns on forecast accuracy is key to track progress.

Robotmageddon is Avoidable: Honestly, our Finance world is changing – we know that AI and robots are impacting our careers, but if we get out in front of it, we can be the change vs. being affected by the change.

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