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Survey: Few Finance Pros Are Ready for Digital Disruption

  • By Staff Writers
  • Published: 11/14/2017

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Finance and treasury professionals know that new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and robotic process automation will disrupt their function, yet they believe their organizations are not prepared for the coming changes, according to a new AFP MindShift survey.

The poll of 279 finance and treasury professionals, conducted at AFP 2017, found that just 11 percent believe their organization is “fully prepared” or “very prepared” for these new technologies. Fully 36 percent believe their organization is “minimally prepared” or “not prepared.”

The AFP MindShift survey also found that:

  • 50 percent say blockchain and the internet of things (IoT) will have a moderate or significant impact on their profession
  • 48 percent do not plan to implement IoT technology; it is even higher for blockchain (51 percent), AI (54 percent) and robotic process automation (55 percent)
  • 58 percent say the biggest hurdle to adopting emerging technologies in their organization is “awareness and engagement”.

The survey results should serve as a wakeup call, said Jim Kaitz, president and CEO of AFP. Kaitz is one of the creators for AFP MindShift, a consortium that connects technology innovators to the corporate finance and treasury community.

“The benefits of new technology for finance and treasury are clear: increased productivity, reduced costs and better decision-making,” Kaitz said. “However, the challenges are just as clear: lack of control over technology, cybersecurity, company-wide consistency, maintaining employee skills, and the potential loss of jobs. Treasury and finance needs to get their heads out of the sand and begin to grapple with these challenges.”

In addition to the onsite survey, AFP MindShift released a whitepaper, “Emerging Technologies and the Finance Function: Prepare for Disruption.” The paper was prepared by AFP, Marsh & McLennan Companies’ Global Risk Center and Starfish Leadership.

The new whitepaper focuses on three emerging technologies: robotic process automation, AI and blockchain. Each new technology presents unique opportunities for finance and treasury, and accordingly, requires a practical set of moves to help the function accelerate awareness and proactively manage adoption risks.

“When finance and treasury roles consider applying emerging technologies, such as robotics process automation and AI, to their processes, there are a number of attractive capabilities that can potentially transform the way they operate and enable their business to be more competitive,” said Leslie Chacko, director, Marsh & McLennan Companies Global Risk Center. “However, there are serious challenges and considerations in governance, talent strategy, cyberrisk, and more that have to be very carefully considered. That said, ignoring these technologies isn’t an option. This paper articulates six practical moves that finance and treasury can make to enhance their awareness, assess their organization, and test these technologies with minimal risk exposure.”

The AFP MindShift whitepaper and survey data are available here.

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