The Finance Leader Podcast

093: Adopting Artificial Intelligence

August 09, 2022 Stephen McLain Season 11 Episode 3
The Finance Leader Podcast
093: Adopting Artificial Intelligence
Show Notes Transcript

This week it’s all about embracing, adopting and using artificial intelligence in our finance and accounting processes. I expect the early adopters to gain a significant competitive advantage as they shift from waiting on data to guiding a system with real time data that solves problems and affects decisions earlier in the process. Earlier than we ever thought we could. It’s time to commit funds in our budgets for systems, hardware, training and even the right people on our teams as we transition to the future. 

Episode outline:

  1. Become open-minded so you learn how AI will help,
  2. AI can create a competitive advantage,
  3. Will lead to improved and more real-time processes, and
  4. Commit funds to future technology and training.

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This week, it's all about embracing, adopting, and using artificial intelligence in our finance and accounting processes. I expect the early adopters to gain a significant competitive advantage, as they shift from waiting on data to guiding a system with real time data that solves problems and affects decisions earlier in the process earlier than we ever thought we could. It's time to commit funds in our budgets for systems, hardware, training, and even the right people on our teams. As we transition to the future. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host, Stephen McLean. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. My usernames and the links are in this episode's show notes. And also, please join the Facebook group I have for this podcast community. Thank you. This is episode number 93. And I'll be talking about using artificial intelligence in our financial analysis and accounting work, and I will highlight the following topics. Number one, become open minded so you learn how AI will help. Number two AI can create a competitive advantage. Number three, will lead to improved and more real time processes, and four commit funds to future technology and training. PAUL DOHERTY Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of Accenture said, the playing field is poised to become a lot more competitive. And businesses that don't deploy AI and data to help them innovate in everything they do will be at a disadvantage. This week, we are talking about artificial intelligence. This can spur all sorts of opinions and ideas of what AI is and what it can do and maybe even fear that it may take jobs away and even the worst fear of all that we may lose total control. Artificial Intelligence is another tool to help you find better and quicker insights. You must plan and invest differently to achieve what AI can deliver. It will require a different focus and a different mindset to grasp and implement its capabilities. And if you open your mind to it, you may be amazed what it can do. I am really enjoying the topic I am covering in the season of the podcast. Over the last two weeks, I provided an overview of the Financial Planning and Analysis Team and episode 91. And last week in Episode 92, I talked about using validated data. And this week, it's an overview of artificial intelligence. We're building on a theme for season 11. I want you to envision what you can do differently to achieve a better result in your analysis, and better decision making process. Next week I will talk about problem solving and decision making. I am by no means the person who knows everything on artificial intelligence. But I do advocate for leadership. And I do advocate for breaking away from the status quo. As leaders who are not complacent we must be open to the possible and to the future. The future I see includes artificial intelligence. And this is not to be feared. It's not the Terminator. It's not Skynet. But that is the image we often see you in artificial intelligence. As mentioned, AI brings in a new way to look at data and our processes. How much more real time can we become with our data? And how much more accurate in our predictions, projections and forecasts can we become? These predictions along with a better and more in depth pattern analysis will help us see things we didn't see before in our traditional methods of analysis. I will barely touch on these themes in this one episode, because there's a lot to learn and discover about AI. The three main areas where artificial intelligence can add value and change. How you do business include process automation, advanced pattern recognition using better predictive algorithms, and finally, more human like interactions, while helping your customers and team members. All of these areas are more data intensive and rely on more real time access to the data. What I am introducing you today is more machine learning processes versus actual deep learning that includes vast AI neural networks. I am talking about the basic introduction to bringing AI to your team where it can add tremendous value above what you're probably doing today with only spreadsheets. It will be the early adopters of artificial intelligence who will gain a competitive advantage in the market. in place, you will find more relevant insights and they will be more real time, your projections will become more realistic and accurate. Your financial system will be able to analyze more variables using readily available economic data, market data, product data, and many other datasets to build better models, which may lead to a more comprehensive understanding of your target customer and marketplace. AI is all about better predictability models with a combination of more real time data and an advanced algorithm. Additionally, it also includes how we interact with that data. And those patterns. Are your finance and accounting teams performing their roles in a traditional sense. Are they waiting on data to arrive? Are they exporting data to Excel? And are they cutting and pasting data into an old model that hasn't been updated in years? Do you even know if those models have been refreshed and audited recently to make sure they are working properly? Or are they filled with errors? What is your company's investment in AI right now? Do you have anything in the budget regarding system upgrades, applications? And even getting the right people on the team? Or are you starting from zero? It's definitely time to build an AI strategy and integrate that into your overall business strategy. The more time you delay not visiting these concepts, the more your competition gets better at it and more prepared. Even your customer relationship management application will become more AI centric as it looks to respond to requests for help from a variety of stakeholders. All the way back in episode two of the podcast I talked about the four responsibilities of finance and accounting leaders, which are influencing growing your people achieving results and finally seeing the future. It seeing the future that leads us to an amazing tool like artificial intelligence. How can you see the future more clear than you're seeing today? How can your team get better at building a better predictability model, and how your customers behave for example, which can lead to more sales, and many other data based applications and decisions. Now let's talk about using artificial intelligence in our financial analysis and accounting work. Number one, become open minded so you learn how AI will help. Not everyone is open to AI and I understand that your company may not have the resources to implement anything in the coming year. But I recommend that AI be a topic on the table so that once resources are available, you can activate a project to discover what it can do for you. If you're not convinced what AI can do for you, then that is another issue. I do believe that AI is a tool that can expand your abilities to analyze and predict using data in different ways beyond what your analysts are doing today in a spreadsheet with downloaded data from your current financial system. And even if you're using dashboards, which would be awesome. By the way, we are looking at deeper analysis and insights using multiple variables that your analysts may not easily see. We are talking about finding opportunities in the data that are not obvious. Finding gaps in your sales and finding new ways to save resources. I'm asking you to be future oriented in your thinking you may not see AI as a need right now, but start to look at the concept and develop a potential plan for your company. Even though I point to using Massive Datasets. Small businesses can also take advantage of AI technology by using chat bots to interact with customers in the hiring process by improving cybersecurity and by using effective customer relationship management software. Number two AI can create a competitive advantage, I believe the early adopters will gain a competitive advantage. The companies using AI right now know more about their data, their operations, and their customers more than their competitors who export data to spreadsheets. AI can analyze data differently, which will drive better insights above and beyond what you're doing now with resources you currently have. And you will see your customer differently, and you will interact with your customers differently. Where you want to find opportunities in the data insights you can't see even if you're looking for them. The average analyst can give you obvious calculations, your above average analyst will go beyond the easy calculation to find an insight relevant to the business unit they're supporting. AI can be guided to analyze patterns that are not obvious opportunities that you may be missing in sales, and savings and other key metrics. Number three will lead to improved in more real time processes. When effectively deployed, AI will lead to better In more real time processes, not just real time dashboards, which I hope is part of your plan to make analysis better, but more intuitive pattern analysis, looking at multiple variables and scenarios to help fill gaps in understanding what is happening in your key metrics, like sales. What are you missing? And can AI help you figure that out? I think it can. I expect your analysis your projections and forecasts to be much more improved, and more accurate, and your customer relationship management system will answer your customers questions and inquiries more efficiently and with higher quality outcomes. One caution is that we must always be careful of algorithmic bias. Humans for now are building out the algorithms, which can lead to errors and bias on how data is segmented, prioritized, processed and analyzed. Be careful as you move forward to eliminate such bias. Your algorithms can be built with both individual and organizational influences. So ensure you know what rules are used in the data analysis and problem solving rule sets. Number four, commit funds to future technology and training. Does your company currently have investments in the budget for future systems, or for system replacement? This also includes people investments, you need the right people in place to help transition to using AI, and your overall analysis plan. Your AI project should continue to build on what you're currently doing with human delivered data analysis and business intelligence. What happened? Why did it happen? What should we do? And then what can we enhance in our analysis, as we transition from just finding insights, to making decisions, and finally taking appropriate action, I do recommend developing an AI strategy that supports your overall strategy. Even if you don't have extensive use of AI right now. start developing a concept to help your company in the future. Your concept would include what technology you should select, and there are many on the market right now, what rule sets to use, how will you stack and segment your data? How will the project be implemented and changes to your team which also includes training and new skills development, I know that the organizations who embrace artificial intelligence will gain a competitive advantage, you can develop better processes, better predictable models using data in a vastly different way than you are looking at data today. It begins with an open mind to what AI can deliver, and also understanding what AI isn't develop your AI strategy and start to commit funds in your budget to bring AI into your organization. So you do gain a competitive advantage. And the most important concept to consider is developing a balance between your desired AI tools with the correct human resources and connections for action today. If your organization does not currently use AI, do you have an artificial intelligence strategy for the future? Have you considered using AI at all, here are a few considerations. The first, every organization's AI needs will be different. So you will need to determine what you want AI to solve, and what services you want provided. Next, be focused on this transition model. Data analysis, insights, then decisions, and finally taking actions. As your company amasses more data. It will need to be stacked and segmented properly, so that your system can analyze it correctly. The AI algorithm will help deliver insights especially where you currently have gaps in analysis and understanding, then your newfound insights should move you to better decisions to then ultimately to actions, which could be a new plan based on what you're seeing, particularly in your key metrics and financial statements. Then with that, what technology you will help meet your AI needs. And finally, what training will you need including new skill sets, and what personnel changes will be required. This is just the beginning. There are many commercially available technologies that can help you once you define your needs and your AI concept. Don't forget to grab my free guide for you called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. Are you a finance or accounting professional who is also leading people, but have questions about how to lead more effectively. I know you are expected to be the technical expert in our field. Learning leadership can set you apart from your peers, which can then lead you to more opportunities. In the free guide I talked about three leadership areas communication, team development and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the financial systems you are using to complete your work. The link to this free guide is in the post or the bio. You can also So go to Finance leader To download it. Please use the guide to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you today I talked about adopting and using artificial intelligence and I highlighted the following points. Number one, become open minded so you learn how AI will help. Number two AI can create a competitive advantage. Number three, will lead to improved and more real time processes, and for commit funds to future technology and training. This was an interesting topic this week, I barely touched the surface of what AI can do for your organization. I will expand more on this topic in later episodes because there's so much opportunity available, but I wanted to at least introduce a few concepts and ideas. If your company does not have an AI strategy yet, and since we are leaders, we need to start thinking about AI and how it can help our organization to become healthier, financially, and more insightful. There is opportunity in the data once you look at it in a different way. Next week, I'll be talking about problem solving and decision making, which fits right in to the theme we are looking at in this season. I hope you enjoyed the finest leader podcast. I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills, to change your mindset, and to clarify your goals so you advance your career. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. If this episode helped you today, please share and leave a quick review so that others may find the podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance leader and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode of the podcast. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you