The State of Play of Intelligent Automation in the Finance Function


Download the reportAdvances in intelligent automation (IA) have made it more cost efficient for organisations to adopt. It has taken over many once-mundane tasks within the finance function and allowed employees to take on higher-value tasks.

ISCA, AI Singapore and NUS Business School have collaborated to produce a report titled, “The State of Play of Intelligent Automation in the Finance Function”. The project seeks to discover the risks and benefits for an organisation in implementing IA solutions; provide insights into the prevalence of IA adoption; uncover the expectations of the C-suite when implementing IA solutions in the finance function, and provide recommendations for organisations considering the adoption of IA solutions.

The key takeaways of the study include:

  • 75% of C-suite executives indicated that intelligent automation (IA) helped to augment their finance employees’ capabilities.
  • 61% of C-suite executives believe that it relieves 26-50% of work but 69% of Working Level staff said that only 1-25% of work was assumed by the IA solution. This perception gap indicates that the C-suite need to cultivate an environment that promotes honest, constructive feedback from all levels to obtain the best possible return on investment on the IA solution.
  • Many respondents said that the data and output from their IA solutions in the Finance function were not used as much by other departments – 57% said Operations used the data, 46% said Sales, and 29% said Marketing/Communications, indicating that many potential synergies are not captured.
  • The top three functions within Finance where IA is used are Accounts Payable (61%), Accounts Receivable (57%) and Budgeting/Financial Planning and Analysis (51%). These three functions represent the ideal candidates for automation, particularly for organisations looking to begin their foray into digitalisation and automation.
  • Eight recommendations for the adoption of IA:
    1. Start small.
    2. Leadership from the top is critical.
    3. Buy-in from all levels is essential.
    4. Manage the transition to automation carefully.
    5. Communication is a two-way channel, and taken seriously.
    6. Consider the opinions of Working Level staff, particularly during process improvement phases.
    7. Ensure that expectations across all levels are realistic and specific.
    8. Seek to continuously improve on the process and the solution.