Generative AI Changes Everything for the CFO and Finance

Rondy Ng, Executive Vice President, Applications Development
Keith Causey, Senior Vice President, Cloud ERP Transformation and Development | March 7, 2024

In the dynamic world of finance, artificial intelligence has been a game-changer, transforming traditional processes and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Now, with the introduction of generative artificial intelligence, or GenAI, the role of the chief financial officer will change even faster. Below we explore how GenAI is not just reshaping finance but revolutionizing it.

Transforming Traditional Finance Functions

The integration of GenAI into our financial ecosystem is more than a mere technological upgrade. It's a seismic shift that will empower CFOs to simplify finance processes, accounting closes, filings, planning, analyses, and broad decision-making. GenAI will bring the power of assisting, advising, and recommendations into these established processes in entirely new ways. Tasks that were once arduous, time-intensive and manual, will become routine, often running in the background. Of course, this frees up resources for more strategic initiatives.

This transformation doesn't just boost productivity; it propels finance teams toward a future where decisions based on real-time data, analysis, and recommendations become the norm. The CFO will be equipped to focus on forward-looking, business value-focused activities, leading to significant enterprise-level benefits.

Unleashing New Capabilities

GenAI isn't just a tool or a technology; it's a catalyst for innovation. New use cases are emerging at a staggering pace, powered by the synergy of GenAI, traditional AI, and expansive data models, all designed to take automation and insight to new levels. Benefits include:

  • Increased productivity: Finance teams will boost efficiency with the continued march toward touchless operations with the next level of automation, streamlining or replacing processes, and reducing errors. AI will reach into complex activities such as recommending actions to optimize capital allocation and revenue growth, improving negotiating positions, and facilitating automated business-to-business transactions. In a financial reporting scenario, GenAI will help prepare first drafts of the statutory accounts and returns, including notes to the accounts.
  • Enhancing financial close, reducing risk: The close process will undergo meticulous scrutiny with every entry analyzed, with anomalies detected and corrective actions provided.
  • Enabling timely actions: Real-time data processing becomes the cornerstone of financial planning and analysis, no longer requiring us to wait for month-end close to identify operational shortfalls and opportunities. Incorporating relevant external information only enhances our ability to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies, proactively offering predictions and informed recommended actions.
  • New higher-value capabilities: GenAI in combination with traditional AI will simplify end-to-end business flows and processes between transacting organizations, from receivables risk and collection management to fraud detection. Other areas ripe for automation and simplification include contract preparation and project proposals, treasury activities such as loan applications and opening bank accounts, purchases and settlements, and more.

Realizing higher value outcomes from these and other positive change possibilities will challenge our status quo for the better—which leads us to the role of the CFO.

GenAI isn’t just a tool or a technology. It's a catalyst for innovation.

CFO As Chief Change Agent: Leading the Digital Finance Transformation

As CFOs, we are the torchbearers of change. A seven-step roadmap will guide the way:

  1. Begin your transformation now: Initiate a digital transformation to prepare for change, including implementing a finance platform that can seamlessly adopt new capabilities as they’re introduced.
  2. Drive technology strategy: Drive a technology strategy focused on data to power next-generation capabilities and outcomes like AI/GenAI, and the simplification and modernization of finance. Data will be your backbone and your finance platform will be your foundation for transformation and innovation.
  3. Think strategic, not tactical: Define outcomes strategically for higher value and employee satisfaction. Focus on data-driven outcomes that provide meaningful insights for real-time decision-making, the highest level of automation, and proactive vs. reactive strategic actions. Look to reduce organizational friction and increase business opportunities.
  4. Data powers AI: Quality data is crucial for automation, pattern recognition, and training AI for advanced capabilities. A data-first mindset and a data-focused platform are essential for long-term success. This cannot be stressed enough.
  5. Organizational refocus: CFOs should tackle the fear of change head on by empowering employees through investments in training to build their capabilities to take advantage of GenAI/AI. These investments help ensure a data-driven business focus, prepare people for continuous change, and ease fears through open and honest discussion. Otherwise, employee resistance could result in slow or poor adoption.
  6. Treat transformation as a journey: An ERP platform strategy is the starting point for the journey, focusing on people, process, data, data-driven outcomes, and cloud-based technology. This platform should allow flexibility regarding when and what you implement and provide agility for growth, acquisitions, and changes in business model. Incremental execution—starting with small experiences, building wins, and proving value—will lead to greater strategic gains.
  7. Cloud ERP as the data platform: Choose an ERP platform anchored by data, with integrated software and infrastructure supporting a broad array of finance and non-finance solutions that will always offer the latest, cutting-edge version. AI needs accurate and comprehensive data to be most effective. So the platform providing the best foundation can ingest data for continuous innovation and easily deliver new capabilities that propel your digital transformation.

The GenAI-Powered Future of Finance Is Now

AI, and now GenAI, is not a future possibility; it's our current reality reshaping finance. Finance is evolving into a more strategic and valuable function, and action is required now. Don't be caught short; the time to begin your digital transformation journey is now.