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The Future of Finance: AI and the Entrepreneur Rapid changes in AI automation are being introduced in industries that are already operating like well-oiled machines

By Rebecca Livesey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Technology does not replace human connection and customer experience, it supports it. The role of robotics in finance is to replace the low-level systemized work and to help make more robust decisions.

When it comes to financial functions of the future, we can see that robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will take over analytics, big data, trend analysis and risk management to eliminate human error. AI will also allow organizations to partner with businesses to help them grow. This frees up entrepreneurs to invest more time in the elements that AI struggles to do right now, such as strategy, creativity, and forward thinking, which are more valuable to the "bigger picture" of the organization's growth. Robotics will eliminate the low-level systemized and administration work that many employees fill their day with. Furthermore, organizations should see zero errors from their systems due to AI, and maximize the quality of input from their employees.

Why it Matters

There is a myriad of examples of the day-to-day activity that will be more efficient, and less time-consuming than relying on the input of individuals, who, like all humans, make mistakes, occasionally need sick days and may lack motivation.

With the use of AI, end of month processing should be really slick; disparate data and operational systems could be easily linked to make the sharing of information and insights much smoother, and the annual budget process a lot simpler and quicker.

This means the "checks and balances" and "risk mitigation" work that a lot of entrepreneurs face in their finance teams should be much more efficient and less resource heavy.

The Required Change

What will change is that entrepreneurial leaders will need to recruit different people or skillsets to fill these strategic roles or invest significantly in training. At the moment, many finance teams won't be prioritizing strategic skills, but if these organizations look to the future, and plan forward, they will.

Entrepreneurial leaders will be required to be more than just strategic, forward thinkers, they will have to know how to engage their people, have skills in complex problems solving, provide judgment thinking and consider all perspectives. A CFO who has a background in strategic thinking and leadership may be better suited than someone who has a general finance background, but potentially lacks this foresight and direction.

While the traditional business CFO role moves more towards a strategic leader with fantastic people skills, underneath them the best organizations will engage specialists who are experts in their technical field (pure finance, data scientists, AI experts), who act as special advisors and advise on the work but don't necessarily lead people. In this way, we are rewarding both people and technical skillsets and providing a career path for both.

A futurist organization is headed up by a people person, a strategic and forward-thinking leader who can steer the organization, with a team of technically brilliant experts and managers who can manage their teams and the work—given it is in their area of expertise. It's important that the entrepreneur in charge can lead and connect with the people so the human connection and engagement aren't lost through increased technology and automation.

The ability to look at problems and solve them creatively will be required from a CFO and their team, and to start this early on would make the transition smoother for the entrepreneurial leader.

Employees will need to learn how to be the strategic thinker in organizations, and if this doesn't come naturally, they will need to undertake some training in this area. It's not about specific technical skills or experience, but having great people, leadership and strategic problem-solving skills that will make a great CFO and, therefore, create a strong foundation for a financially secure business as AI changes how we manage our internal financial teams.

Rebecca Livesey

Director, Executive Coach, Strategy & Leadership Consultant

 Rebecca Livesey is the founder of Achieve Lead Succeed, and is based in Brisbane.

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