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Helping CFOs be more connected to organizational priorities with integrated data, and the evolving role of AI

The role of the CFO has changed – CFOs are now key stakeholders and trusted strategic drivers in their organizations, no longer simply a back-office support function. With an increased need to forecast, plan, and drive strategy, they need to ensure their finance teams wield the most productive and innovative solutions out there.

However, CFOs are also drivers of efficiency and technology adoption within their organization. 

CFOs must evaluate their role as trendsetters, understanding that as they ensure investments align with corporate goals, they too are ensuring that other key organizational functions can, and will draw value from, the same tools.

In this blog, we will explore the CFO's role within AI implementation and how this demonstrates their new role as strategic drivers within an organization – keep reading to learn more.

The role of CFOs in AI implementation

The CFO's importance as the intersection between strategic driver and tech implementer is clear in their implementation of AI as research from Gartner shows 34% of respondents identify CFOs as being involved in developing future GenAI strategy in their organization.

While this solves particular situations within the office of the CFO, such as bridging talent shortages of qualified accountants and an increased need to be strategic, they are ultimately demonstrating the use case for AI in other functions also.

“GenAI spend is expected to be five to eight times higher than last year at most organizations, and many CFOs are playing the role of copilot to ensure these investments drive measurable benefits and profitable growth without unduly increasing risk” as Gartner reports.

Moreover, using AI automation effectively, demonstrating that AI is not a replacement for teams but an enabler of productivity, is a keen example of CFOs ‘moving the ball downfield’ when it comes to technological implementation, recognizing the role of human capital in organizational success.

According to a recent report from PWC:

“For many CFOs, plans for where to implement automation and AI will be closely linked to broader digital transformation goals for the entire enterprise. To tackle more complex objectives like expansion or disruption, organizations need to use more advanced tools, such as AI and machine learning. These tools will help them make better decisions and uncover new market opportunities.”

Click to read Increasing Excellence in IT with ERP (2023) Gated

Putting people first with integrated data

The strategic adoption of AI by the CFO is also a demonstration of the value of integrated data in championing collaboration across functions. This, both improved collaboration and accuracy, will also be key in satisfying other challenges facing the CFO such as ESG compliance.

Without this integrated data within the Cloud’s common data model, AI would not be able to operate efficiently. Moreover, for the implementation of AI to be ethical and align with corporate principles, it must put people first.

Gartner add that: “CFOs know that GenAI strategies must be cross-functional. They are leaning in with their CIOs, CISOs, and CDAOs. But many are going further than just partnership, and instead playing a leadership role in crafting a GenAI strategy that aligns with and enhances the business and financial strategy.”

By reducing common data errors with AI automation of data consolidation tasks such as reporting, strategic communication, and reporting can be more accurate for the other key functions that rely on accurate financial information.

This is a two-way street; the financial function also needs data to flow from other departments, like HR, to inform their forecasts and financial plans accurately. It goes without saying that accurate forecasts and strategies need accurate and integrated data.

How Unit4 FP&A can help CFOs put people first with AI automation

CFOs are the technological trendsetters in their organization and also strategic drivers, implementing tech solutions, such as AI, while putting people first, ensures that other functions can manage implementation risk well.

Gartner suggests CFOs play “a leadership role in crafting a GenAI strategy that aligns with and enhances the business and financial strategy for the board, investors, and regulators.” 

At Unit4 we are currently exploring utilizing AI to help our customers to communicate insights from their financial data more easily using AI enabled FP&A along with smart assistance. AI-enabled data storytelling can help create a narrative around data, by leveraging user notes, commentary, and context.

We expect finance teams in the future will also be able to identify trends at a glance and facilitate better decision-making through an enhanced understanding of the underlying data, through a digital assistant that will suggest and/or insert variances and apply conditional formatting to support analysis.

Unit4 FP&A helps you to forecast and predict future outcomes accurately. Our Cloud-based software is designed to provide businesses with the tools they need to optimize financial performance and drive growth. Integrating financial data in the Cloud, through SaaS solutions such as ERPHCM, and FP&A, enables data tools for better agility and enables you to utilize automation capabilities without a hitch. 

Our integrated suite of ERP software solutions will help you elevate your business, delivering visibility and control over finances, projects, procurement, reporting, forecasting and payroll – helping you ensure accuracy and effectiveness when using AI, generating reports, and much more. 

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