Navigating economic turbulence: the AI compass for finance leaders

Lotta Lundaas

Lotta Lundaas

VP of Marketing

December 1, 2023

6 min read

Navigating economic turbulence: the AI compass for finance leaders

As the specters of inflation, recession, and upcoming elections loom over the economy, companies are searching for ways to remain resilient by navigating and unlocking growth and profitability. The compass to help guide this journey, increasingly, is artificial intelligence, which presents a compelling solution, especially for finance operations. By deploying AI-powered software, finance leaders can drive efficiencies, reduce costs, and uncover new revenue opportunities. This enables sustainable growth even in challenging conditions.

The secret weapon ready to be deployed 

The current economic turmoil puts immense pressure on finance teams. With rising costs and falling revenues, maintaining profit margins becomes exceedingly difficult. Manual processes limit how fast and effectively teams can respond to change. AI systems, however, can automate repetitive tasks and provide intelligent insights at scale. For instance, AI can review and approve invoices, reconcile accounts, and predict future cash flow. 

One area ripe for AI adoption is auditing and reporting. As regulations grow more complex, audits become painfully tedious and time-consuming. AI audit tools can analyze massive amounts of data far faster than humans. This increases productivity and frees up finance professionals to focus on judgment-intensive areas. AI can also generate real-time reports and forecasts to give executives up-to-date visibility, which enables data-driven decision-making to navigate uncertainty.

Many finance processes, like collections and payments, still rely on manual entry and tracking, which leaves room for human error and delays. AI software can ingest documents and data to update accounting systems automatically. It can also initiate transfers, send reminders, and predict payment behaviors. Automating these repetitive tasks improves accuracy and reduces days' outstanding sales. This provides a much-needed boost to working capital and cash flows during volatile conditions.

Moreover, with AI-driven automation in finance operations reducing the burden of mundane tasks, it allows employees to shift from transactional to strategic roles. In this way, AI not only boosts employee morale but also enhances the strategic acumen of the finance team. In the face of a recession, such operational efficiency is crucial for maintaining profitability without compromising on growth initiatives.

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Unlock new opportunities with predictability 

Beyond enhancing efficiency, AI opens up entirely new revenue opportunities. With mountains of data, finance teams can tap into AI to uncover fresh insights. AI-driven trend analysis can identify ways to optimize pricing based on micro and macroeconomic factors. Granular customer segment analysis enables the development of targeted products and promotional campaigns. Competitive intelligence analysis reveals opportunities to gain market share from rivals. Leveraging AI allows finance professionals to play a more strategic role in driving growth.

Risk management, a cornerstone of financial stability, is another domain AI fortifies. Advanced algorithms can detect anomalies and patterns indicative of financial fraud or non-compliance —  areas that are particularly vulnerable during economic downturns. By ensuring the integrity of financial operations, AI not only protects against losses but also upholds the company's reputation in the market.

AI's prowess lies in its ability to process vast amounts of data with unparalleled speed and accuracy. In finance, this translates to real-time insights into cash flow, expenditures, and financial risks. AI algorithms can predict market trends, enabling finance leaders to adjust their financial strategies proactively. This predictive capability is invaluable in an inflationary environment, where the timing of investments and cost-cutting measures can significantly impact a company's bottom line.

Early adopters achieve higher earnings

While AI adoption accelerates across industries, finance functions stand to gain tremendously. According to a McKinsey survey, early AI adopters see up to a 50% reduction in processing times and up to a 25% increase in revenue growth. The improvements in speed, cost, accuracy, and insights contribute directly to the bottom line and are invaluable in inflationary periods when controlling expenses and finding new profit avenues become imperative.

Of course, AI also presents demands around data, skills, and integration. Finance leaders must invest thoughtfully in technology, training, and change management to extract full value. But as the economic outlook becomes cloudy, AI's benefits far outweigh its costs. Finance teams who embrace AI now will emerge stronger and more strategic after any potential downturn. Most importantly, they’ll have a competitive edge in the market that will prove difficult to catch. With AI's help, growth and profitability remain within reach even in difficult times.

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