There are both positive and negative interpretations and predictions about the transformation of financial management tasks and job descriptions brought about by automation and artificial intelligence.
It is already clear that robots have not taken the jobs of financial management professionals and are unlikely to do so in the future. But the tasks of a CFO will certainly not be the same as they were before automation.
The CFO’s job description has also changed with the increased automation of financial management.
Automation and artificial intelligence produce data, the CFO analyses
Sometimes an old cliché sums it up best: today's CFO is no longer a treasurer. Nowadays, the CFO is a professional who builds a picture of the company’s financial situation for the management based on the available data and makes analyses and recommendations relying on that data. The CFO must constantly improve the analysis of the company’s business activities and patterns.
Fortunately, thanks to automation, there is now more time and tools for this improvement. As financial management routines and reporting become faster and more sophisticated, the CFO has the opportunity and the obligation to spend more time thinking. This allows the CFO to focus more and more on the work and skills that are of most benefit to the company: analysing the company's financial figures and helping the business to make the most of them.
Automation and artificial intelligence are helping businesses to improve the quality of their financial data by reducing human error in data processing and the cost of controls. As a result, the analysis and conclusions drawn from the data are of higher quality.
From past to future
Another financial management cliché is that financial reporting is about looking in the rear-view mirror. Digitalisation is helping to shift the focus of financial management from reporting on the past to forecasting the future. For example, artificial intelligence can help detect trends in large amounts of data that might be harder for humans to spot – or at least take more time.
A lot of reliable, high-quality data already exists, but it may be scattered across different systems and recorded in different ways. Automation has the potential to combine different data sources and produce information that was previously unavailable. Digitalisation also enables data to be used more widely – for example, industry market analyses and big data can be incorporated into the analytical framework when it is useful for the business.
All of this means that businesses are increasingly being run on a more informed basis and are able to make better decisions. Artificial intelligence is a tool that helps the CFO to focus on what matters most.