Unless you've been left isolated on a desert island purged of digital-enabling technology for the past six months, you've probably experienced the tidal wave of news and excitement radiating around Regenerative Artificial Intelligence (AI). In a recent report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, not known for making inflated prognostications, predicts that "virtually every business will use AI".
This post explores how generative AI is transforming core finance and accounting activities and what the future might hold. But first, let's take a step back and get some context.
Why has generative AI captured the world's attention and imagination? The impact of AI is global, affecting governments, businesses, industries, and individuals. It provides significant value by enabling digital transformation, automation, optimization, and advanced data utilization. AI helps generate fresh and innovative insights, elevates decision-making, and takes efficiency to a new level.
A quote by Dr. Andrew Ng, a leader in AI and founder & CEO of DeepLearning offers one very big idea why AI matters: “Artificial Intelligence is the new electricity.”
Dr. Ng's quote compares the transformational potential of AI to how electricity became an essential utility, revolutionizing both the private and public sectors. AI, like electricity, is becoming an indispensable utility powering various aspects of life and business.
What is generative artificial intelligence?
Generative artificial intelligence is a type of artificial intelligence system that produces text, images, or other media in response to prompts. This technology uses machine learning to analyze the patterns and structures of its input training data. It then creates new data with similar characteristics.
The crucial point to note is that generative AI derives its output from existing data. This can result in problematic responses if the training data is biased, incorrect, or outdated. As we all know, not everything on the internet is true.
There is another type of AI called predictive AI. Predictive AI uses data analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and statistical models to find trends and patterns and predict future events or behavior. Companies can use predictive AI to spot trends, forecast risks, identify solutions in response to those risks, and improve decision-making.
The primary distinction between predictive AI and generative AI lies in their core functionalities. Predictive AI analyzes existing data to make predictions; generative AI uses existing and learned patters to produce new content — e.g., images, videos, or text — based on learned patterns.
Across industries, AI has helped automate and improve the efficiency of back-office operations, provide real-time insights through data analysis, and improve customer communications. According to a J.P. Morgan study, “generative AI tools reduce the money and time needed for content creation, boosting productivity and profitability. The rise of generative AI has also sparked innovation, paving the way for new business models and applications.”
Generative AI and reimagining finance and accounting
In finance and accounting, generative AI can have a significant impact by digitizing and optimizing critical processes involving accounts payable, accounts receivable, spend management, liquidity management, inventory control, cash flow management, and working capital management. Through automation and deft analysis of massive data sets, generative AI makes these workflows more efficient, cost-effective, and adaptable to changing business needs.
Here’s how generative AI is remaking finance and accounting processes:
- Improved insights and decision-making: By analyzing large volumes of data and identifying patterns, trends, and anomalies, generative AI models can help financial professionals uncover insights and make more accurate predictions, risk assessments, and informed recommendations.
- Increased efficiency and cost savings: Generative AI drives significant efficiencies and cost savings in financial operations by automating repetitive tasks, streamlining processes, and reducing manual errors.
- Targeted communications: Informed by massive data sets containing texts, categorical data, audio, videos, numerical data points, generative AI models can create more natural and contextually relevant customer responses in AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants.
- Automation of repetitive tasks: Automating repetitive and labor-intensive tasks improves accuracy and frees accountants' time to focus on more complex tasks that require human judgment and expertise. Automation also contributes to greater efficiency, which enables accounting to scale as the workload increases.
- Fraud detection: By analyzing large volumes of financial data, regenerative AI systems can help identify fraudulent activity or suspicious irregularities that may require further investigation.
- Document analysis: Generative AI can process, summarize, and extract valuable information from large volumes of financial documents, such as annual reports, financial statements, and earnings calls, facilitating more efficient analysis and decision-making.
- Financial report generation: Generative AI can help finance teams more efficiently pull in data many sources and automate creating text, charts, and graphs. These reports may include:
- Balance sheets
- Income statements
- Cash flow statements
- Financial analysis and forecasting: By learning from historical financial data, generative AI models can capture complex patterns and relationships in the data, enabling them to make predictive analytics about future trends, asset prices, and economic indicators.
- Improved compliance. Generative AI can assist businesses in complying with accounting and financial regulations by automating the process of tracking and reporting financial transactions. This can help prevent costly fines and penalties.
- Improved customer experience. Generative AI can help to improve customer interactions by providing customers with real-time updates on their account status and by automating the process of resolving disputes. This can help to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Specific process applications
- Working Capital Management: Generative AI can be trained to forecast future working capital needs. This can help companies better manage their cash flow and avoid potential problems.
- Cash Flow Forecasting: By automating tasks, improving accuracy, reducing costs, enhancing visibility, and identifying potential risks, generative AI can help companies better manage their cash flow and avoid potential problems.
- Accounts Payable: Generative AI can help reduce the costs associated with accounts payable by automating tasks and improving accuracy.
- Accounts Receivable: Generative AI can identify customers who are at risk of defaulting on their payments. This information can then be used to develop a personalized collections strategy.
- Liquidity Management: By processing vast amounts of financial data, generative AI can identify patterns, detect trends, and make predictions about future liquidity needs. This helps organizations optimize their cash management strategies.
- Spend Management: Generative AI can be used to track vendor performance and identify areas for improvement
Innovative software driving faster payments, reconciliation, and seamless integration
Digitally collect and collate all the data you need just once
Plooto automates the manual processes associated with inputting a bill. You can upload your invoices into Plooto using Plooto Capture — AI-powered optical character recognition technology. Plooto Capture seamlessly extracts and collates all the information on the invoice to publish from Plooto into your accounting software, recording it as a bill to be paid. Plooto then automatically pulls the data from your accounting software, allowing you to make payments against the newly created bills, all without ever leaving the Plooto application. With Plooto Capture, you can collect and compile all the data you need in one place digitally, dramatically reducing errors caused by inefficient, error-prone manual processes.
Identify outstanding transactions, pay bills, and confirm payment in a few clicks
Plooto automatically recognizes any outstanding transactions that require payment or receipt. It allows you to schedule direct bank-to-bank money transfers, including foreign exchange and cross-border payments. The money is electronically pulled from your bank account and deposited into your vendor's account, with payment status tracking throughout the process, and confirmation once the payment is complete.
In addition, a dashboard enables you to identify and review your pending payables, payments in progress, and completed payables and receivables, providing you with complete cash flow visibility.
Ensure cash flow continuity while getting paid faster
Plooto supports multiple payment collection options, including credit card, recurring payments, and pre-authorized debit (PAD) payments. Recurring payments and PADs accelerate payment collection, ensure cash flow continuity, and increase visibility into cash flow forecasting. Having visibility of cash inflows and outflows on a single platform simplifies cash flow management.
Make better decisions through accurate data and greater visibility
Seamless and robust data integration between Plooto and your accounting software ensures accurate recording of information, correct payments, and a more manageable and faster end-of-month reconciliation. Plooto automatically provides payment and approval audit trails and records the information needed for reconciliation.
In addition, the raw data can be filtered and used for various reporting purposes, such as reviewing specific suppliers. For deeper analysis and reporting, you can easily export this data into an Excel/ csv file, which can then be imported into third-party data tools for study.
Plooto provides the data — and visibility — you need to make better cash flow and business management decisions. Innovative payment and workflow solutions like Plooto have advanced and added value to the work of accountants and finance teams.
It’s very apparent generative AI has the potential to change how we’re doing business in ways we have never imagined. Jensen Huang, Co-founder and CEP of NVIDIA captured the zeitgeist of our burgeoning AI era when he said…”20 years ago, all of this [AI] was science fiction. 10 years ago, it was a dream. Today, we are living it.”