Separating Hype from Reality: Real-World Transformations of AI in the Finance Function

“AI allows us to elevate the work that humans do to be more valuable and lets humans focus on the unique skills that AI will never be able to replicate.”

Aaron Harris, CTO, Sage


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has garnered significant attention in recent years, generating both excitement and skepticism. In the finance function, the practical applications of AI have proven to be more than just hype. Real-world applications showcase how AI revolutionizes financial operations, streamlines processes, and drives innovation.

Sage Intacct recently took up this subject in a webinar, Beyond the Hype—Learn How AI is Already Transforming Financial Management.  (We also weighed in in this blog.) The webinar explores the tangible transformations brought about by AI in the finance function and separates the hype from reality.

Automating routine tasks and process optimization

AI’s impact on automating routine tasks in finance is more than mere speculation. Financial teams are leveraging AI technologies such as machine learning (ML) to automate processes such as data entry, document processing, and invoice reconciliation. A McKinsey report estimates that 45% of work activities could be automated by AI and related automation. 

For example, Sage Intacct Accounts Payable Automation leverages smart technology to automate routine, manual tasks, including invoice capture and approval routings—freeing staff for more strategic tasks. 

Artificial Intelligence

Enhancing data analysis and decision-making

AI algorithms can process vast volumes of financial data, identifying patterns and extracting valuable insights. Finance teams are leveraging AI tools to analyze data in ways that would otherwise require libraries of spreadsheets, such as optimizing portfolio management, identifying risks, enhancing returns, and improving financial forecasting.

For example, Sage Intacct’s Interactive Visual Explorer allows you to interactively explore your financial data using a multi-angle, multi-dimensional graphical tool. The powerful tool requires no special skills or IT to use. Instead, you can start with one of more than 200 prebuilt interactive visuals or build your own, allowing you to identify trends, patterns, and correlations and answer questions you didn’t know you needed to ask.

Automating risk assessment and fraud detection

Advanced algorithms can analyze historical data, patterns, and anomalies to identify potential risks and fraudulent activities more accurately and quickly than traditional methods. This not only minimizes financial losses but also enhances overall corporate security.

Within Sage Intacct, for example, AI-powered outlier detection in the General Ledger module reviews journal entries and flags anomalies to help you proactively catch errors and identify issues and risks prior to your approval. The detector “learns” more and becomes a more valuable tool every time you use it. 

Move closer to a continuous close

In a continuous close, financial transactions are recorded and processed in near real-time, allowing for immediate visibility into the organization’s financial health. This enables finance professionals to regularly review and address issues as they arise, ensuring the accuracy and availability of financial data throughout the period.

AI-powered algorithms and tools play a crucial role in enabling a continuous close by automating repetitive tasks such as data entry, reconciliation, and report generation. This reduces the risk of human error, improves efficiency, and frees finance professionals to focus on value-added activities like financial analysis and strategic decision-making.

For example, Sage Intacct Intelligent Time frees project and service teams to focus on their clients by combing through calendars, emails, and other files to reconstruct their work week. This delivers current data to project reports to support proactive decision-making. And, by eliminating much of the manual work, timesheets are more likely to be submitted on time—leading to more accurate costing and billing. 

What might the future hold?

The future of AI in finance holds immense potential. The recorded webinar outlines the Sage Intacct executive team’s thoughts about how AI will expand within the finance function over the next five years. It’s worth a watch to get their informed perspectives, but here are the points they touch on:

  • Continuously monitor performance—and alert to subtle changes in cash flow, for example 
  • Anomaly detection—beyond GL transactions.
  • Image recognition/OCR/smart matching—expanding existing capabilities.
  • Recommender systems—think Amazon or Netflix, but with the system recommending you review certain transactions that may be of interest.
  • Process automation—further expanding on efficiencies like AP automation and intelligent timesheets.
  • Conversational AI—think of dictating details of an expense report which the system converts into a submittable transaction.

The hype is real. It’s here. Are you ready? 

The real-world impact of AI in the finance function is tangible. AI technologies are already transforming financial operations by automating routine tasks, enhancing data analysis, improving financial planning, and powering data-driven decisions. And the future of these technologies is vastly promising. Is your finance team able to capitalize on the benefits of AI? 

You may be concerned your company doesn’t have the IT skillsets or technology expertise to implement AI tools. In our experience, that is not a roadblock. By implementing a financial management solution like Sage Intacct that is already leveraging AI algorithms and tools, you don’t need a specialized skillset to benefit. 

Some may be concerned that AI is a potential threat to their role within the company. We believe the contrary is true—by allowing finance leaders to focus on strategy rather than transaction processing and reporting tasks, your role becomes even more integral to the success of the organization. 

We invite you to view the recorded webinar and learn about the practical applications of AI—beyond the hype. 

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