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Automation, embedded AI drive the CFO's strategic value

Automation, embedded AI drive the CFO's strategic value

The finance function in companies around the world is undergoing fundamental change due to digitisation. Technology developments are compelling finance teams to optimise resources in order to become a more value-add partner to the business.

This new requirement is why we're starting to see more business leaders - especially CFOs - turn to ERP solutions with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) to both free up and maximise their time, helping make the best use of the productive hours they have available.

Bringing AI into the business

According to Deloitte's Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2019 report, its survey of AI early adopters showed that the most popular path to acquiring AI capabilities is also the easiest; enterprise software with integrated AI. This software is overwhelmingly cloud-based, either through public or private cloud deployments. Deloitte estimates that by 2020, about 87% of AI users will get some of their AI capabilities from enterprise software with integrated AI.

Companies are challenged when it comes to being able to harness and apply data intelligently to inform processes and get the insights needed to work more quickly, efficiently and flexibly. They are now looking for practical ways to bring AI into the business; and a key path will be through having AI embedded into their applications.

Not only will this give them a way of bringing AI to the masses through means they already feel comfortable with rather than fearing the 'rise of the robots', it will also mean that eventually, it'll be saturated into the infrastructure and become prevalent in all of a business' systems.

Driving the business forward

To thrive in a demanding business landscape, organisations need their leaders to be pushing themselves where it matters, focusing as much as possible on the bigger picture and going above and beyond in their mission to get the business strategy correct. Adding AI or even chatbot assistants to their ERP applications to handle less strategic work can help them do just that.

One of the key business drivers for AI adoption is its immense power to increase human productivity and business efficiency. A recent Oracle survey of international senior decision makers showed 42 percent are already looking to AI technology to improve efficiency within their organisation. And, with ongoing improvements to cognitive AI capabilities, those gains are only going to get bigger.

Our heads of finance are in a privileged position, among an elite few with access to data pertaining to all parts of the business. If you're one of the few people with a true oversight of connected data and processes in an age where businesses are driven by data, you need to ensure you're taking every chance to make use of it. More CFOs need to free themselves to take advantage of this position, applying their productive hours and good decision-making capacity to the data they have at their disposal. After all, it's this insight that's empowering the valuable guidance they can give the CEO and help to drive the business forward.

Good news for CFOs is that the latest PwC Global CEO Survey, launched at the World Economic Forum this year, found that 31% of CEOs in Africa strongly agree that AI will have a larger impact on the world than the internet, the most of all the regions surveyed.

With 80% of an organisation's transactions processed in the back office, there's a big opportunity to digitally transform and make the most of being more data-driven and automated. The time has come for CFOs to maximise their potential and shift their position to become more strategic and help with the running of their organisation as a whole. This will ensure that they find themselves even more central to the organisation.

By Sarah George, ERP/EPM Cloud Applications Business Development Manager and Product Leader at Oracle.

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