Recently, the OECD reported that, despite earlier research from Oxford University, artificial intelligence (commonly referred to as “AI”) will not have such a threatening impact on UK jobs as initially thought. In fact, the OECD claims that the previous forecast from 2013 was greatly exaggerated, stating that 35% of the UK’s workforce was at risk of being automated in the next 20 years, when actually, five years on, analysis has found that it’s only 12%. So, what is the reason for such a big discrepancy, and should finance professionals be breathing a big sigh of relief?
The reason being is that yes, some roles and tasks in finance will become automated, but that doesn’t mean every finance professional out there now has to hang up their Finance hat and head home. This growth of AI and automation in previously manual roles needs to be looked at as more of a half glass full than a half glass empty situation, because what happens to those “replaced” roles instead is that they don’t simply disappear, they evolve.
So, how will this affect Finance in particular?
Possibly the biggest case for the introduction of AI in finance, lack of efficient processes is one of the biggest pain points for a finance team; as well as the rest of the business. Introducing AI and automation can eliminate the tedious, manual tasks that once took up a lot of Finance’s time and automated them to achieve massive productivity gains – up to 90% in fact! It may not require much human intervention, but just think of how much more value you could be delivering your business with the freed-up time?
As a professional that for the most part, hasn’t changed in decades, finance professionals and accountants have never had to push themselves to keep up with the latest innovations in their industry…until now. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to worry about the new tech jeopardising their role. On the contrary, it should be seen as an opportunity to learn and add more skills and knowledge to your repertoire. Any accountant can run around the office waving a paper invoice to approve, but how many accountants can understand how to set up automated workflows for approvals and deliver real-time information on the company’s spending?
Relating to my first point about efficiency, the thing to never forget when AI and automation comes knocking at your door, is that it is there to support you. Ultimately, the CEO and the rest of the rest of the business just have the same goals as their finance team: to have more efficient processes and an accurate view of the company’s finances. AI and automation can help you achieve just that for your business.
So now you know what AI and automation really means for finance, what is there left to be afraid of?