CFOs face major barriers to scaling up the use of AI in-house and will increasingly turn to business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions to meet their digital transformation objectives.
Digital automation in finance often fails to meet the expected benefits outlined in business cases for deploying such technologies. Much of this is down to a lack of truly functional automated processes: A significant proportion of automation work fails and is rerouted to a human for manual input. Without correcting for this state of “fake automation,” finance departments will struggle to scale automated solutions, such as AI, effectively across the function.
Barriers to scaling AI in finance
As the number of AI solutions and users grow, so does the complexity in scaling efforts. CFOs who attempt to keep AI in-house will hit a productivity ceiling, as the complexity of maintaining projects tax internal resources and slow or prevent the deployment of new solutions.
There are three key barriers that finance departments will face when attempting to scale up their AI processes across the functions.
- Costly upfront infrastructure. Building infrastructure in-house requires upfront investments for cloud hosting, acquiring new specialist skills for infrastructure maintenance and additional security investments required to manage an ever-growing user base.
- Lack of bandwidth among citizen developers. AI models require continual monitoring and frequent retraining and configuration updates. These requirements divert citizen developers from their core tasks and stretch internal bandwidth.
- Skill-gaps among citizen developers. The citizen developer role is not designed for the technical complexities required to synchronize IT systems and services, nor do they have the skill sets required in workflow management to adapt to frequent changing parameters.
Advantages of AI-enabled BPO
Finance departments have thus far been slow to adopt BPO providers for AI, with just 6 percent currently utilizing an AI-enabled BPO. Gartner predicts this usage will rise to 40 percent by 2024, as the benefits of deploying a market ready solution for AI become more apparent to CFOs.
There are three key advantages of AI-enabled BPO for finance departments:
- Market readiness. With 85 percent of vendors providing an AI service offering for transactional processes, and the majority of vendors holding necessary cloud certifications, AI capabilities are available to start today.
- Economies of scale. BPOs offer larger datasets and a globally available talent pool that enables scaling in a manner that would be near impossible internally.
- Modular approach. BPO providers utilize AI technology as the core engine of the many solutions that can achieve digital finance transformation. This means finance departments can pick and choose capabilities without losing the underlying AI capabilities.