Why CFO’s need to AI-proof their careers
29 March 2018
Is the robo-CFO soon to be a reality?
It’s a serious question. As big data, machine learning and AI advance at a furious pace, more and more white-collar jobs are falling into the "could be done by software" category.
A widely-referenced study from Oxford University suggests that 35 per cent of jobs in the United Kingdom are at risk of replacement by automation in the next 20 years. Among the most susceptible are insurance underwriters, tax preparers, loan officers, credit analysts – and finance professionals.
The office of finance has already seen rapid change, with CFOs increasingly turning to powerful technologies like CPM and business intelligence to deliver better information and simplify processes. With AI set to accelerate that evolution even further, CFOs might well ask if all these improvements are setting the stage for their own demise. In practical terms, the advance of AI-accelerated automation means the office of finance will be spending less time consolidating spreadsheets and more time cultivating insights that can help the business anticipate problems and make course corrections before they become insurmountable.
To career-proof against AI, CFOs will have to focus their efforts on finding the story that is hidden in the data and translating that into actionable information. This, I would argue, is where humans can still beat the robots. If we accept that providing insights is essential for CFOs to build trust, then the human element can always win. CFOs need to make bold moves now to position themselves with skills that complement the new technologies they will soon be investing in. Success will depend on combining the capabilities of artificial intelligence with the breadth of knowledge, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills of high-level consultants.
Perhaps that will make the future CFO something of a cyborg – a new breed of finance leader powered by a mix of technology and enhanced skills to make the technology deliver.
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By Matthias Thurner