The AI skills gap; the Achilles heel of finance professionals
By Matthew Rodgers, Executive Vice President, EMEA at OneStream Software
As we enter 2024, Britain’s finance functions continue to be put under pressure by a shortage of talent and necessary digital skills. In fact, research shows that 90% of employers are experiencing skills shortages. These skills are crucial to increasing productivity, reducing burnout and keeping pace with business changes in the new year.
As businesses continue to face inevitable economic hurdles this coming year, and finance functions navigate changing legislative requirements, AI technology is becoming increasingly necessary for professionals to effectively report, forecast and plan for this year and beyond.
Making productivity a priority in 2024
If there’s one thing finance executives like, it’s improving productivity levels. And in our latest global survey, three quarters of respondents believe that AI will boost productivity by taking on taxing admin tasks and allowing humans to focus on more strategic responsibilities which have greater impact on the business.
While it’s fantastic that there is a clear solution to boosting productivity, the adoption of AI, executives must recognise they cannot just bring in AI and expect all their problems to disappear. Time needs to be taken to upskill whole teams so that the technology has a long term impact in making reporting, forecasting and planning activity more efficient and reliable.
More AI, more money
Driving profitable revenue growth is crucial for businesses to thrive in today’s competitive market. However, there are economic challenges that come with this.
As businesses grow larger, maintaining the same percentage of growth becomes increasingly difficult. This is often due to increased competition, or because the company has saturated existing markets and needs to find new segments to target to sustain growth.
Another challenge is that rapid revenue growth may lead to increased operational costs, especially if resources or infrastructure aren’t properly managed.
AI technology can help streamline processes and analyze large sets of data, predict future outcomes and help companies focus on new growth opportunities. AI can also help perform thorough scenario analysis and risk management, preparing a company for all inevitabilities when change is happening both internally and externally. With this in mind, it’s a no brainer for ambitious businesses to consider implementing AI solutions in 2024 to drive strategic growth.
Finance leaders who invest in AI will reap the benefits as they will see their efficiency and productivity increase.
How AI can solve the puzzle of CFO burnout
For seasoned finance leaders, adapting to an ever changing economic and legislative environment will be second nature. But with the pace of change speeding up every year, the current shortage of talent and digital skills needed to keep up means many leaders are facing burnout.
The implementation of AI is a key way to tackle burnout, giving finance leaders more space to focus on more strategic tasks. Still, 61% of finance executives are not using AI yet and just 29% of finance leaders believe that the industry will start to use AI more often over the next five years.
This poses a huge problem as they’re lagging behind professionals from other sectors without the means to ease their pressures. Finance leaders should look to implement AI into their function more and more, and take the time to upskill their staff, if they want to keep talent within their organisations.
Looking to the future
The great news is 2023 ended up providing a ray of hope for finance professionals, with our report stating that 72% of finance leaders think that AI will create opportunities for new jobs in the industry.
Alongside this, our survey also shows that 36% of finance leaders believe that AI will save money that would have been spent on compliance and regulatory reporting.
AI’s integration in finance isn’t just revolutionizing processes either; it’s inspiring the next generation of finance leaders.
Our research also shows that over the next five years, over half of finance leaders believe that AI will become a core component of their financial processes and that its role will grow even more, especially when it comes to automated report writing and enhanced financial forecasting.
All this means AI is soon to become the heartbeat of financial operations, and the future of finance lies in our ability to embrace and leverage AI technologies.