Intelligent automation (IA)—the combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing and robotic process automation—is transforming organizations around the world to achieve unprecedented levels of growth and productivity.
Intelligent automation can be used to collect, analyze and make better decisions, in real time. And according to Deloitte, venture capital investment in both robotics and artificial intelligence has grown more than 70% in each of the last two years. Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
The continued development of intelligent automation is ushering in a new era of productivity, efficiency and unprecedented growth. It is as impactful for the Digital Age as the assembly line was for the Industrial Age. Nowhere is this more apparent than in finance. Having traditionally dealt with balancing budgets, reporting on revenue and forecasting—the function is perfectly suited for machine learning and artificial intelligence-driven automation technologies.
Naturally, finance executives have many questions about intelligent automation, and its usefulness for their particular organization.
How intelligent automation supports growth
In a 2018 study by the Harvard Business Review and Oracle, 80% of the 389 organizations surveyed say that intelligent automation implementation is very important to the success of their enterprise, rating it between 8–10 on a 10-point scale, with many of its components ranked ‘very important’ in a survey of technology investment and implementation priorities:
Notably, intelligent automation technologies comprised over half of all technologies in the survey, making up a large percentage of the ‘very important’ and ‘experimenting’ technologies as well.
So, why do so many business leaders believe intelligent automation is important, and worth the investment an experimentation? Well, the organizations who have implemented IA successfully are already experiencing the results.
Business leaders indicated that of the artificial intelligence integrations, 36% believed AI had a ‘significant impact’ on their organization’s bottom line, while 28% said it had at least a moderate impact.
In finance, this belief is certainly not misplaced—35% of financial services organizations saw up to a 5% increase in revenue growth due solely to intelligent automation, with increased time to market, improved cross-selling efforts, better targeting, higher customer loyalty and more business from longer hours, contributing to measurable revenue growth.
And the best is yet to come; Capgemini estimates that by 2020, banking and capital markets are expected to gain $269 billion from IA implementation—adding $512 billion to the global revenues of such firms worldwide.
How intelligent automation supports productivity & efficiency
Enterprises across all industries have been experimenting with intelligent automation, says a McKinsey study, and with impressive results. Industry leaders in adopting intelligent automation technologies have been able to:
- Automate 50–70% of tasks
- Improve run-rate cost efficiencies by 20–35%
- Reduce straight-through process time by 50–60%
- Achieve triple-digit return on investment (at least 100% ROI)
PwC found that 30% of financial institutions were in the process of adopting robotic process automation, and over 50% were investing heavily in artificial intelligence. But, according to Accenture, up to 80% of accounting tasks could be intelligently automated.
As we are still in the early stages of implementing intelligent automation in meaningful ways, we’ve yet to see just how far we can push the envelope. But, when intelligent automation use cases increase, productivity and efficiency do too.
How intelligent automation provides mission-critical business insights
Hard-pressed executives may wish otherwise, but there’s no crystal ball when it comes to business decision-making. However, intelligent automation and data mining solutions can facilitate the process of gathering data, combing through it and arriving at accurate insights. And although it can’t replace human discretion, it does equate to overall better decision making.
In the aforementioned study by Harvard Business Review and Oracle, 10% of respondents described their use of AI and automation as sophisticated and extensive (‘leaders’), 61% identified pockets of AI/ automation in the company (‘experimenters’), and 28% indicated little or no use of AI/automation. (‘laggards’):
One major finding of the study was that ‘leaders’ are very objective in their decision making. Leaders didn’t assign as much weight to their own opinions, instincts or accepted practices, and instead weighed both internal and external data points, with a comfortableness implementing and relying on ‘sophisticated’ analytics for suggestions. Leaders were also the least likely to make decisions solely based on ‘gut feel’.
Leaders were also able to derive more value from the insights produced by intelligent automation, as compared to experimenters and laggards—45% of all leaders surveyed reported their approach to decision making and ability to leverage intelligent automation for business insights was better than their competitors, while only 19% of experimenters and 8% of laggards felt the same way.
All respondents anticipated growth in their use of AI/automation over the next three years, with 59% indicating their intelligent automation solutions would become sophisticated and extensive, while 35% believed they would have pockets of implementation.
Are you an experimenter or a leader?
The finance function is poised to become a strategic business partner in a way that goes far beyond reporting the numbers and making sure they add up. But with the ever-advancing technology at our fingertips, comes equally unprecedented priorities and expectations.
To stay ahead of the curve, finance leaders must adopt, implement and effectively leverage intelligent automation within their organization. But for the function to be flexible, and able to withstand the tides of change, while making proactive technology investment decisions, CFOs must change how they approach data gathering and enterprise decision making.
Having a strategic partner who can guide you through the complex process of mapping out and implementing a successful digital transformation is crucial to succeeding in this area, and we at Level Global support finance leaders with personalized intelligent automation solutions and implementations.
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