Digital transformation is a focus across all industries today, thanks to new technologies and an economy driven by customer and service led business models. It’s already very clear that the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) is going to play a big role in shaping future workplaces. But will it replace entire functions such as finance, up to and including the CFO?

SwissCognitiveThere has been a lot of talk and concern about how this rise of machines and an increase in automation will impact us at work. AI has the potential to perform many essential tasks with improved accuracy and efficiency compared to a human worker. The World Economic Forum (WEF) is predicting that by 2020 we will already start to see new technologies contribute to significant job losses in some industries. It predicts that 4.7 million jobs will be lost in office and administrative roles, and 1.6 million jobs lost in manufacturing and production (these statistics are the total for the top 15 economies).

At the same time, there are also likely to be new roles that do not yet exist. The WEF predicts that approximately 65% of children in elementary education today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist, created by new technologies like AI as an integral part of doing business.

So, do we believe there will be a robo C-suite in the near future? It’s a serious question, but the answer has to be no. Perhaps more realistic is a sort of cyborg CFO for example – a new breed of finance leader powered with technology enhanced skills. Whatever the future holds, companies will always need the human traits that seasoned executives, and CFOs in particular, bring in spades – leadership, strategic thinking, judgment and experience.

It’s what you do with the data that matters

The possibilities for business to act on the large volumes of data available to them today are endless. That insight and how companies act on it will deliver competitive differentiation. For this reason, AI will become integral to finance functions in every industry.

Many businesses are already enjoying the data, analytics and reporting benefits of an advanced financial system. Villeroy & Boch, a company headquartered in Germany with more than 54 global subsidiaries and 14 production sites in Europe, Asia and the USA, has turned to automation as part of an integrated and globally consistent financial planning solution. The company faced complexity from the subdivision of its subsidiaries into operational divisions as well as the challenge of integrating a total of 125 sales markets, including all relevant sales channels. […]