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A
rtificial intelligence (AI) and ro-
botization will affect many ele-
ments of the human endeavor.
That includes the way humans inter-
act, how work is done, and what work
need not be done by humans.
These advancements present an op-
portunity for finance professionals,
provided they embrace these tools.
Businesses will still have roles in which
insight, transparency, stewardship,
and ethical corporate conduct are val-
ued, and strategic finance profession-
als can fill these roles. Risks remain,
but mainly for those who fail to appre-
ciate the new tools and get left behind.
Finance professionals must live with
this changing, disruptive, but oppor-
tune environment and explore oppor-
tunities whereby the finance function
itself can harness the power of big data
and analytics to significantly transform
itself and the organization.
Transformation can manifest itself in
a number of ways across the entire
finance spectrum, from the transac-
tional space of the finance pyramid to
the top end of knowledge and value
generation. The two figures at right
contrast the traditional finance func-
tion and the emerging future.
In today's age of digitization, there is
a major shift in the way transactional
data is captured, recorded, verified,
and converted into information. All of
this is about to change even further
with the advent of technologies such
as blockchain and distributed ledgers.
Inventories and inventory transac-
tions are another case in point. Inven-
tory receipts, issues, stock-takes, and
valuations are today automated and
digitally tracked using radio frequency
identification (RFID), which can be re-
flected directly as transactions in led-
gers and financial statements. Human
accountants may not be required at all
in this once-major role that they played
in organizations.
Add to this mix all the other data
customer, supplier, human resource,
as well as myriad external data. The
end game is that massive volumes of
organizational data can be accurately
captured more quickly and much more
efficiently. The challenge now is deriv-
ing value from all the data.
The era of preparing periodic accounts
month-end, quarter-end, etc. will be
over. An organization's financial posi-
tion will be quite accurately ascertained
instantaneously and at any point in
Big Data, Analytics, AI, and the Finance Professional
Data gathering and accounting's role in it continues to change.
A thought leader explores the opportunities.
By Aubrey Joachim, FCMA, CGMA, Founder, Leading Edge Change
The Changing
Finance Pyramid
The transformed finance profile, where
a greater proportion of the function is
focused on strategic decision support.
The traditional finance pyramid, where
less than 7% of the function is focused
on organizational strategy.
Strategy
Controls
Reporting
Transaction Processing
50%
Transaction Processing
20-25%
Reporting
20-25%
Controls
<7% Strategy