A New Era of AI – and New Responsibilities for CFOs in 2024

AI implementations are adding more to a CFO’s plate.

Chief financial officers are on board with artificial intelligence adoption, but they should also be prepared to take on more responsibility as AI weaves its way through corporate hierarchies.

According to Paro, a Chicago, Il.-based digital transformation services company provider, 83% of U.S. C-Suite executives surveyed say AI and machine learning adoption is “important for their business.”

That’s not all, as the data accumulates on a massive rise in company AI implementations, according to Paro.

• More than half of respondents’ businesses have already adopted AI/ML technology (57%). Of those that have already adopted it, 67% state the technology has been adopted in predictive analytics and forecasting, 56% in process automation for internal workflows, and 54% in personalization.
• More than half of companies are using AI/ML-driven data for long-term strategic planning.
• 44% of respondents are already using AI/ML technology for recruiting and hiring processes.
• Close to two-thirds of finance teams (61%) partner with other business teams beyond transactional support.
• Planning and reporting rank high on participants’ finance function readiness for automation.

“Leaders must harness AI to transform their finance teams into strategic catalysts for future success,” says Anita Samojednik, CEO of Paro. “Today’s complex, shifting financial environment is straining finance teams. As a result, they often struggle to provide the strategic insights needed to guide business decisions. Companies that don’t evolve run the risk of underperforming their peers and becoming less competitive.”

The Paro survey bears that sentiment out.

In it, 53% of senior executives say the current finance team “lacks advanced analytical skills, followed by lack of data governance and technology proficiency to use tools and software” (at 38% of survey respondents respectively).

“It is largely C-suite executives who are flagging the lack of advanced analytical skills, with 59% agreeing on this area of weakness in their company, compared to 43% of owners or partners,” the study notes.

CFOs Need To Step Up

AI can’t take flight inside companies unless top-line decision-makers get a grip on artificial intelligence management and oversight.

“Everybody agrees that artificial intelligence is the future, but there are quite a few concerns about how to implement and govern it,” says Paro CEO Anita Samojednik.

Increasingly a wider sphere of influence and responsibility may shift to the CFO realm to get that job done.

“The CFO role is evolving given the uncertain macro environment, evolving investor and client expectations, and the acceleration of technology and AI strategies,” says Katie Rooney, global CFO and COO at Alight Solutions, a cloud-based human capital technology provider in comments to Fortune this week.

“In 2024, CFOs will have more influence on data and analytics strategies through investment decisions,” Rooney adds. “I believe CFOs will also need to be their own activists, driving agile capital allocation processes given changing macro dynamics. This will continue to elevate the CFO role in line with what we have seen in 2023 with more CFOs taking on expanded roles.”

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