With AI increasingly recognized as a vital tool for enhancing decision-making, reducing response times, and mitigating errors, a crucial question arises: Is your organization adequately prepared for the AI revolution?
AI is manifesting its influence through digitizing work processes, impacting management decision-making and affecting workforce outcomes. This prompts us to consider the broader implications of AI on workplace cultures, teams and overall business operations.
The integration of AI can significantly shape employee experiences, skill sets and job satisfaction, presenting leaders with new challenges. In this interview conducted by Economy Middle East, we engage in an exploration of these implications and related aspects with Fazeela Gopalani, the head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in the Middle East.
How is AI influencing the psychology of work in the finance and accounting sectors?
It’s understandable that employees are concerned that AI-driven automation might result in job losses, and the accounting field is no exception. However, the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs 2023 report reveals that the pace of automation has actually been slower than anticipated, with just a 1 percent increase since 2020. Estimations regarding the expected level of automation have also slightly receded, shifting from 47 percent of tasks to 42 percent as per our PI report, AI in the Finance Profession.
Automating an entire job may, in reality, mean shifting responsibility and oversight to another area of the business. Domain expertise remains crucial and will continue to be so. The adoption of AI increases the importance of experts, such as finance and risk professionals, to oversee critical processes and functions. AI can offer valuable support and productivity boosts, but it cannot replace the ability to think critically and consider a wide array of contextual factors when making decisions based on AI-driven insights.
From a financial perspective, how would you compare the introduction of AI to other revolutionary inventions such as the industrial revolution, the internet and smartphones?
The integration of AI into the financial sector is a revolutionary advancement yielding tremendous benefits. AI-powered tools enhance performance and streamline processes, offering opportunities for better-informed decision making. By leveraging these cutting-edge technologies, organizations have notably improved efficiency and reduced costs. From a financial standpoint, AI’s introduction can be likened to other groundbreaking inventions, reshaping how we approach finance and accounting, and providing businesses a competitive edge. At ACCA, we witnessed firsthand the tangible impact of incorporating AI, resulting in increased effectiveness and improved competitiveness.
What new and future employee skills does AI necessitates to allow taking advantage of the opportunities the technology provides?
It all starts with digital literacy. In the age of automation, it’s crucial that we adapt to emerging technologies, keeping ourselves updated on the latest tools and techniques. For instance, understanding which prompts to use can significantly enhance our efficiency in gathering necessary information.
Data analysis skills are more important than ever. With AI systems capable of processing vast amounts of information, there’s a tremendous opportunity to uncover valuable insights that can drive business success. By refining our data analysis capabilities, we can make informed decisions and offer valuable recommendations.
Verification processes remain crucial to ensuring the accuracy of the information obtained. While AI tools are beneficial, it’s important to recognize their limitations and avoid relying solely on them. They cannot determine the relevance or reliability of sources or evaluate the quality of information.
Exercise discernment and careful consideration, particularly regarding privacy, as it is a major concern when using AI tools. While feedback loops are important for improving AI responses, we must exercise caution, especially with sensitive accounting data. We need assurances that AI will not compromise data security by exposing it to external parties.
How can workers maintain a distinctive edge and compete with AI when we keep making AI smarter?
In the constantly evolving world of AI, it’s important that we consistently improve our skills and adapt. While AI can handle complex tasks, human judgment, critical thinking and strategic oversight remain indispensable. Working alongside AI, rather than opposing it, enables us to leverage its capabilities and enhance our roles.
Let’s not forget the importance of personal connections in our work culture. Building meaningful relationships is key.
Additionally, let’s not overlook our professional responsibility. Machines cannot substitute for our ethical behavior. We must consistently act with integrity and uphold accountability for our use of information, even in the presence of AI. Always verify and take ownership of the information we use.
What is the cost to businesses of not leveraging AI for better ROI outcomes and creating a positive workplace culture?
Businesses that fail to leverage AI risk falling behind in several ways, resulting in missed opportunities and reduced competitiveness. One of the major benefits of AI is automating routine tasks. Without AI integration, companies may spend invest more time and resources on manual processes, reducing their overall efficiency and potentially affecting ROI.
Moreover, they might struggle to attract and retain top talent, as a forward-workplace culture today often entails staying at the cutting edge of technological advancements. By removing mundane tasks, AI allows employees to focus on more meaningful and rewarding work. Not adopting AI could possibly lead to diminished job satisfaction, increased turnover and heightened recruitment and training costs.
Given that AI offers real-time insights enabling businesses to swiftly adapt to market changes, those without these capabilities may respond slower to trends and shifts, potentially impacting their profitability and market share.
Though there is an initial upfront cost and learning curve associated with using AI tools, the long-term benefits in terms of improved ROI, efficiency, competitiveness and employee satisfaction can significantly outweigh these initial challenges.
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