Corporate Finance

Finance function : Artificial Intelligence for disruptive transformation

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For nearly 15 years, the Finance function (1) has had to meet many huge challenges related mainly to regulation, competition from digital companies, crises, social and societal changes, operational efficiency and profitability, resilience, innovation, and the necessary transformation. These challenges are nevertheless opportunities to confirm and significantly evolve the key role of Finance within the company to transform management in a turbulent and rapidly changing world. And for this, a transformation of the Finance function is a real necessity.

Exponential transformation

The evolution of the Finance function has been in a phase of slow and minimalist growth for several years. And this evolution should reach a breaking point and experience its strongly ascending phase in the next 5 years. This movement will be particularly linked to the socio-economic upheaval linked to the new orientations on the environment and the fast-spreading digitalization of society and companies. Therefore, this transformation can only occur using disruptive technologies and Artificial Intelligence. And can only be successful and sustainable if it is Chosen, smart and humanistic, carried out in serenity and in complete safety, in resonance with the ecosystem. The company is an eminently human experience, a living, complex and highly interconnected system both inside and with its environment.

To at least support the movement and have control over their choices, companies will have to initiate this inevitable transformation now, anticipate it, prepare for it and above all begin its implementation gradually. Because in essence, unlike conventional systems and technologies, such an intelligent control system will, in general, be specific to each company in its ecosystem allowing it to communicate and learn very widely with external sources.

Talent and “Intelligent Agent”

Finance, which plays a central role in the management of the company, deals globally with facts, rules, and processes, real or predictive, most of which are easily transcribed into an algorithm. Moving from traditional tools today, to Artificial Intelligence, would transform the processes of the Finance Department into an “Intelligent Agent”. A system that processes data according to facts and rules, and that in addition is enriched by deep learning thanks to all interactions with internal and external events to Finance or the company, which impact or would be likely to impact the financial data and the performance of the company. Human intervention, therefore, would be strongly transformed and sublimated with its interaction with this “Intelligent Agent”.

Indeed, this technological transformation would be successful, sustainable, and vastly value-creating, if and only if the human factor were considered straightaway as a stakeholder in the solution. Because in this case as well the question of choice is key, the Finance jobs requiring high qualification and are of great added value. The reflection by the stakeholders themselves should focus on the organization, the calibration of the teams, the new skills, the new jobs, skill and jobs to be abandoned, the tasks and/or competences to put in common with other functions, the new processes and the new interactions with the ecosystem.

Ambition and pragmatism: looking far ahead and starting today

From now on, companies should allocate the bare budgetary resources needed to the endless maintenance of expensive, and time-consuming current systems, including those that use robotization, automation, or other modern data processing and visualization techniques, and stop spending huge resources for inconclusive results, to dedicate themselves to a disruptive transformation, here and now. In addition, every brick laid today should be thought of in a medium- and long-term horizon. This orientation would be less costly, it would make it possible to rationalize and pool the data management of the entire company, which could achieve an indisputable gain in operational and commercial efficiency and therefore perform substantial savings, while generating new revenues. The strong point of such a project, immediately achievable, is that this process would engage all actors from the outset in an empowering, rewarding, and motivating trajectory, carrying meaning, around common values, and objectives.

Companies can largely engage within such a project to build a tailor-made system harmoniously combining technology and talent. It could be optimal if it integrated all the steering functions and activities.

  1. The scope of the Finance Department varies according to the company, it may include at least the following departments: Accounting, Consolidation, Management Control, Performance Management. Also considered, M&A, Asset & Liabilities management, Treasury. Other steering activities such as the Risk, Operational Marketing or Actuarial, could be perfectly integrated into the approach. ↩︎

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