AI is increasingly being implemented to drive efficiency across organisations. This is particularly true within finance teams, which are using AI to build upon robotic process automation’s ability to complete costly, error-prone jobs, and allow humans to focus on more nuanced tasks.

But the potential for AI to transform organisational decision-making to help drive profitable growth is relatively unexplored in the sector.

“Finance teams can use their broad knowledge of a company’s data resources and combine that with AI models to help companies tighten their business operations,” according to an ebook titled 5 Actions CFOs Can Take Now to Fuel Growth and Profitability from enterprise cloud applications company Oracle.

Oracle’s the senior vice president for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Greg Pavlik continues: “Artificial intelligence is fundamentally changing the way that we interact with the world. This change presents both opportunities and challenges for organisations that want to take advantage of new AI technologies. Nowhere is this idea truer than with generative AI.”

Opportunities for AI-powered business finance

There are multiple ways AI can drive efficiencies and create savings for finance chiefs. Already, AI can provide decision-making support via scenario modelling and anomaly detection, such as risk and fraud detection.

Building on robotic process automation’s legacy, AI automates a range of processes. In finance, AI-powered tools can help with invoice matching, exception handling, and monitoring tasks such as expense reviews.

Further, AI models can monitor for business process efficiency, directly empowering finance teams to detect problems and inefficiencies as they arise, ultimately enabling businesses to limit blows to their bottom line.

“Process mining offers a prime example of how AI can help a company tighten operations. An AI model learns how a process is working, how long it takes to accomplish each task, what problems or exceptions can occur, and what the process costs. Operating teams can use this knowledge to simplify and speed up a process without the finance department having to locate transactions or employees having to monitor each step of a process to keep it from going awry,” according to Oracle’s ebook.

Finally, AI can scan through vast amounts of data to discover trends, identify anomalies, and even spot errors. It won’t provide all the answers, but it’s a powerful tool in kick-starting analysis and enabling a larger pool of employees to have a hand in analysis.

With AI powering more business functions, it will certainly have knock-on effects in how finance teams function and the skills needed to carry out new tasks. For example, embedding AI into business processes will spur a need for greater creativity, collaboration and communication within finance teams, and with other departments.

AI will also help to shape the narrative for other C-suite members and business leaders around the data, helping to clearly explain the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the numbers. Finance chiefs will need to clearly communicate the financial and operational data to explain how AI has reached a conclusion, and also demonstrate what the algorithms should and shouldn’t be trusted with. The AI-aided reports, however, will help leaders show other business heads how they can leverage the technology and strategise on how it can be used to solve real business challenges.

Changing the way finance teams operate

Speaking at Cloud World 2023, Oracle’s executive vice president of applications development Steve Miranda spoke about how Oracle’s enterprise resource planning software with embedded AI is a gamechanger.

“In ERP, we use a whole host of generative AI capabilities around summarisation. This includes features that we call management reporting and narrative reporting.

“You can take financial reports, balance sheets, income statements, and AP trial balance reports, and you can have gen AI summarise that report for you in text form. This means that you have the report that the fusion applications produce, and gen AI can supplement that report with a textual summary, including areas that you should look out for to make your job – in terms of reviewing reports – that much easier.”

To learn more about Oracle’s cloud-based solutions with embedded generative AI capabilities, download the free whitepaper.