For CFOs, AI is the newest tool in their arsenal

Cisco Systems is currently investigating the potential applications of generative artificial intelligence in improving productivity within its finance department.

The company has identified four key areas of focus and has initiated a series of pilot programs. These pilots aim to enhance fraud detection through intelligent monitoring, enable intelligent forecasting, generate valuable insights from data, and streamline the processing of complex documents.

According to Joseph Fuller, a professor of management practice and co-head of the “Managing the Future of Work” project at Harvard Business School, CFOs like Herren are grappling with the evolving relationship between humans and technology. In the past, businesses aimed to provide leaders with data to empower them in making better decisions.
AI-powered tools are being developed to analyze and organize large amounts of data, providing recommendations to individuals. As a result, the role of workers is transitioning to approving decisions made by machines. This shift has fundamentally altered the dynamic between humans and technology.

In the context of CFOs and the finance department, this means that instead of conducting retrospective analysis on historical trends such as pricing, sales, and market share, and attempting to make future predictions, AI tools are now providing CFOs with early warnings. This enables them to proactively plan for and mitigate risks more effectively.
According to Fuller, the use of AI will provide the opportunity to identify problems earlier and effectively manage risks. This includes risks related to the supply chain, overstock, and losing market share due to pricing. With AI, the CFO organization will have greater visibility and can take proactive measures to address performance issues, instead of relying on reactive interventions.

CFO Joy Mbanugo from IT service management company ServiceRocket has been encouraging her team to embrace AI. Interestingly, some younger employees have been particularly enthusiastic about using AI to improve their work, even surpassing Mbanugo’s own expectations.

Mbanugo notes that those who embrace AI are becoming more strategic in their approach.
She believes that AI has great potential to be used in practical ways, such as implementing a chat feature that can effectively communicate complex topics in multiple languages for ServiceRocket’s global team members. Additionally, AI can be utilized to draft internal policy changes and improve revenue prediction.

Mbanugo states, “I believe the cutting-edge aspect lies in the ability of finance teams to quickly process and analyze vast amounts of data, not taking days but minutes.”

Checkr, a company specializing in background checks for businesses, has been utilizing AI since its establishment ten years ago. The recent launch of ChatGPT and other AI tools has made it easier for businesses to adopt emerging technologies like generative AI, while also reducing the cost of accessing AI.
For startups like Checkr that receive funding from venture capitalists, it is crucial to adapt to changing expectations. In particular, the recent increase in interest rates by the U.S. government to combat inflation has placed more pressure on startups to be cautious with their spending.

Naeem Ishag, the CFO at Checkr, explains, “We have noticed a heightened intensity and pressure to demonstrate profitability. Therefore, leveraging AI technology can significantly enhance profitability by automating tasks related to first-line operations, increasing employee productivity, and ultimately contributing to the company’s bottom line.”

According to Fuller, AI is a game-changing technology that requires companies to redesign their entire processes in order to fully maximize and take advantage of its benefits. Rather than simply adding AI to existing workflows, companies should reorganize their teams around AI to fully integrate and optimize its potential.
According to Fuller, the main risk faced by companies in today’s AI-driven transformation is being too cautious. This viewpoint is supported by various studies. A recent survey conducted by consulting firm EY revealed that only 26% of chief information officers have implemented AI in a significant manner, and less than half have even reached the stage of testing or proof of concept.

Fuller warns that moving slowly while competitors, especially larger ones, move quickly poses a significant risk. This article was originally published on