Advances in intelligent automation (IA) have made it more cost efficient for organisations to adopt. It has taken over many once-mundane tasks within the finance function and allowed employees to take on higher-value tasks.
ISCA, AI Singapore and NUS Business School have collaborated to produce a report titled, “The State of Play of Intelligent Automation in the Finance Function”. The project seeks to discover the risks and benefits for an organisation in implementing IA solutions; provide insights into the prevalence of IA adoption; uncover the expectations of the C-suite when implementing IA solutions in the finance function, and provide recommendations for organisations considering the adoption of IA solutions.
The key takeaways of the study include:
- 75% of C-suite executives indicated that intelligent automation (IA) helped to augment their finance employees’ capabilities.
- 61% of C-suite executives believe that it relieves 26-50% of work but 69% of Working Level staff said that only 1-25% of work was assumed by the IA solution. This perception gap indicates that the C-suite need to cultivate an environment that promotes honest, constructive feedback from all levels to obtain the best possible return on investment on the IA solution.
- Many respondents said that the data and output from their IA solutions in the Finance function were not used as much by other departments – 57% said Operations used the data, 46% said Sales, and 29% said Marketing/Communications, indicating that many potential synergies are not captured.
- The top three functions within Finance where IA is used are Accounts Payable (61%), Accounts Receivable (57%) and Budgeting/Financial Planning and Analysis (51%). These three functions represent the ideal candidates for automation, particularly for organisations looking to begin their foray into digitalisation and automation.
- Eight recommendations for the adoption of IA:
- Start small.
- Leadership from the top is critical.
- Buy-in from all levels is essential.
- Manage the transition to automation carefully.
- Communication is a two-way channel, and taken seriously.
- Consider the opinions of Working Level staff, particularly during process improvement phases.
- Ensure that expectations across all levels are realistic and specific.
- Seek to continuously improve on the process and the solution.