Automation » AI: The future CFOs believe in, yet few have implemented

AI: The future CFOs believe in, yet few have implemented

Over 80% of finance leader say adopting AI is important but 42% are yet to implement it

New research from Paro, a leading finance and accounting AI-powered growth platform, has revealed finance professionals are reluctant to implement AI tools despite recognising its benefits.

In a report that publishes the findings of its Future of Finance survey, Paro notes 83% of finance leaders recognize the importance of adopting AI and ML for their business’s future success. However, despite this clear recognition, 42% of businesses have yet to embrace AI.

The study surveyed 250 C-suite and senior-level managers.

“Finance leaders have a growing appetite to adopt advanced technologies to drive efficiency and provide more impactful insights,” the report said, “However, data challenges, communication barriers and cultural hurdles are still vital issues to be resolved.”

Adoption barriers need to be cleared

Of those who have adopted AI, usage spans predictive analytics and forecasting (67%), process automation (56%) and customer personalisation (54%).

NLP for customer service is the most common way smaller businesses have adopted AI (60%), Paro notes in the report.

The study also identifies, however,  several obstacles that prevent finance teams from becoming more strategic, including technology and data challenges, regulatory and compliance issues, resource constraints, and cultural and leadership changes.

When it comes to potential concerns or hesitations around AI and emerging intelligent technology, cybersecurity and data security were participants’ primary concern (54%). This was followed by the loss of human judgment or oversight (39%), cost of acquisition or integration (35%), and lack of transparency or understanding of how AI works (33%).

Half of the respondents (53%) say their finance teams lack advanced analytical skills – a capability critical for leveraging AI. This lack of skills is particularly concerning for C-suite executives, with 59% agreeing on this area of weakness in their company.

Similarly, nearly two thirds of executives (29%) cite lack of trust in data and difficulty translating data into insights as top barriers to effective analytics. Paro says to mature capabilities, finance leaders must prioritise data governance, quality and literacy.

AI-driven planning on the rise

Despite these challenges, many organizations have embraced the evolving role of finance. More than half of the respondents’ businesses have already adopted AI/ML technology (57%). A further 56% stated that they were using AI/ML-driven data to inform long term planning.

This suggests senior finance professionals are aware of data strategic value, though adoption maturity continues to vary. Interestingly, most non-adopters also say they’re incorporating AI/ML data in planning suggesting informal AI experimentation.

Paro’s research also suggests executives are looking beyond long rang planning – 71% said reporting¬† is most ready for automation based on current AI capabilities. This was followed by budgeting and forecasting (70%), and AP/AR (60%).

Not the only fish in the sea

The survey results also revealed AI is not the only factor driving the evolution seen within finance teams.

61% of finance leaders noted their finance team collaborates with business unites beyond transactional support, enabling more integrated insights and strategic partnering.

Notably, frequent collaborators (always/often) were more likely to have adopted AI/ML tech than those who had not yet adopted (73% versus 44% respectively).

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