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Putting humans at the helm of finance innovation

As technologies such as 5G, IoT and AI are rolled out across industries, old business models are being overturned and new ones created, all in the name of progress. Even the most established industries run the risk of being significantly weakened, or even made redundant – so organisations will have to embrace change to survive. 

Business agility is crucial to responding to market changes, challenges and opportunities. Embracing the latest technologies, and fast, seems to be the order of the day. But to ensure this can be delivered effectively, a new generation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems – powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – are making an entrance. 

But alongside this, you also need to train and encourage your employees to use them. In doing so, you will transform the nature of their work. Machines and people, working in tandem, is key to future-proofing tomorrow’s enterprise.

An AI revolution

No one can deny the huge benefits of ERP systems for businesses – increased efficiency, lower costs and a single source of truth that enables agility and rapid transformation.

But there’s always room for improvement. Current ERP systems are heavily customised, leading to a lack of interoperability as updates are rolled out. They often struggle due to data issues, and important variables or changes can’t be introduced speedily without the system breaking down. It’s not uncommon for organisations to have to spend enormous amounts of time and resources retraining the models.

Fortunately, these challenges are giving rise to a new generation of ERP systems embedded with AI. AI-powered autonomous databases are becoming far more responsive to inputs, changing rules autonomously in reaction to real-time user feedback. Operations won’t need to be stopped to rewrite the rulebook – the rules will adapt to meet the needs of the game.

The failure of an AI project is usually down to the organisation having too much, too little or bad quality data, compounded by a lack of intuitive tools and executive backing. Key information is missing or siloed, making the complete visibility and insight organisations need to be competitive little more than a pipedream. Often, the will to tackle these challenges is missing within the business. The project is allowed to die and its potential is lost.

With a cloud-based, AI-powered system, the problem is solved. With all your organisational data sitting in the cloud, it is far more visible and is less likely to become fragmented and unmanageable. By automating the vast majority of data management tasks, these smart systems deliver unprecedented insight and strategic value. Moreover, self-patching and self-healing, the autonomous system then ensures the level of data quality remains high. In turn, the accuracy and value of predictions made using this data is enhanced.

Through AI-powered ERP, organisations can transform digitally and evolve at the speed of the market. But to capitalise on the agility of this system, it’s important to seek out solutions that get you up and running as soon as possible. An automated approach, combining a suite of apps – such as evaluators and configurators – that work autonomously, delivers increased agility and speed of migration through faster data loading. This all leads to shorter, more successful and secure migrations that cost less.

Adapting to AI

When it comes to intelligent AI systems, there are two sides to every implementation – the hard, or technological side, and the soft, or cultural. The technology is often the easy part; the real challenge lies in helping your human employees master the new systems.

Combining ERP with machine learning technology can automate the most crucial day-to-day functions, meaning everyone’s roles will need to adapt to the presence of AI tools and applications. It’s therefore crucial that employees prepare to work with these new systems, in order to confidently use them to their advantage – and ensure that the new technology is benefitting the business. 

A big part of making the roll-out to employees successful culturally is about setting expectations. Employees should be reassured that they won’t be replaced by AI, but at the same time it should be made clear that to thrive and be successful you need to be able to work hand-in-glove with the new technologies such as IoT, blockchain, AI and machine learning. Training and education will be especially important for employees to take on, as organisations expect to deploy technologies that enhance enterprise performance management over building their own by roughly two-to-one. 

Employees should see the transition as an opportunity rather than a challenge. The true value of AI lies in its ability to help the employee be the hero of their organisation. It helps them make sense of and capitalise on the previously disconnected data assets of the enterprise. With access to this level of insight, they can anticipate opportunities and make better decisions that add strategic value to the business, whilst increasing their own efficiencies.

The shining example

A good example is how the CFO’s role has transformed over the last decade thanks to ERP. With greater strategically focused responsibilities, the CFO has emerged as the right hand of the CEO. Yet there is still much room for improvement. The majority (89%) of finance leaders have yet to deploy AI in the finance function, despite it having a clear correlation with revenue growth. By leveraging AI, they can automate the transactional tasks that still occupy so much of their time. This will allow them to focus solely on innovating and predicting the needs of the business, generating more value than ever.

Indeed, the most successful employees will be those able to learn how to best use new technologies to their and the company’s advantage.

Organisations must properly support employees through the transition – for example, helping their employees adapt by choosing solutions with intuitive user experiences and interfaces. Employees now expect the level of simplicity they enjoy on their smart phones, with technologies like voice recognition and virtual assistants to help speed up navigation. 

Back office automation has previously been about speeding up processes and improving efficiencies. Short-term and piecemeal thinking have dominated these approaches. But AI means that this is changing. Good training and a tech-first culture will empower workers, giving them more insight into the challenges and opportunities of the business, and enabling them to innovate at speed. With the right culture and support for employees, the nature of work could completely change for the better.


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Debbie Green

Debbie Green

VP of Applications


Member since

06 Nov 2019



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