Can you picture an autonomous finance function in which the majority of operation—and even a significant amount of management—is conducted by machines with no need for human intervention? This is a concept that goes far beyond current conceptions of finance automation, which often are really “interrupted automations” that are still heavily supervised and reliant upon human judgment to run and maintain the process.
Nearly two-thirds of the CFOs Gartner surveyed on this topic can indeed picture autonomous finance and believe it will be a reality within the next six years. This is partly driven by their own experiences as they and their teams get increasingly comfortable with some of the underlying technologies that support it, particularly those commonly referred to as AI.
Gartner already sees a sufficient number of organizations willing to experiment and solve business problems with AI that we predict half of all large finance departments will be using AI by next year to create their short-term financial forecasts. The technologies themselves are also maturing at an astonishing rate.
Despite CFOs’ vision of a fully autonomous finance department within this decade, few are embracing the full set of technologies that support an autonomous finance function that will deliver the very future most are predicting (see Figure 1 for examples of use cases). For instance, only 21% are currently using machine learning, 19% prescriptive analytics, 12% natural language processing, and 8% blockchain.