We’ve been hearing a lot lately about machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). But you may be wondering how it (and even if) it fits into your business. According to data cited at a recent NationaLease meeting by Venn Ravichandran, senior associate, and Kelly O’Rourke, practice director at Point B, the reality is that that the number of machine learning pilots and implementations is predicted to double between 2018 and 2020.
In spite of those predictions by Deloitte, both Ravichandran and O’Rourke said a Gartner study indicated that 71% of CIOs say their organization has limited skills and understanding of AI technologies and strategies.
Like any technology, AI has both pluses and minuses. AI’s strengths are its ability to process large volumes of data, to allow for continuous learning and to provide consistency. However, on the downside, the quantity and quality of the data are important, biases in data are carried over, and ethics are non-existent.
If you think you want to begin getting a better understanding of AI, Ravichandran and O’Rourke reminded attendees that AI is a means to reaching your business goals and it should be kept in mind in when setting your strategic goals.
Before undertaking an AI project, make sure you have both sufficient and clean data.
To chose an AI project, you will need to balance four key inputs:
- Goals: What are your business objectives and desired outcomes?
- Risk: What is the risk to not pursuing a particular use case?
- Cost: What are the costs associated with the resources, computing power and data preparation you need for the project?
- Value: What is the overall value of adopting A in achieving your business goals?
Looking specifically at your accounting department, AI is a good fit for repetitive, time-consuming tasks, ones that require regulatory compliance and those for which there are volumes of past data.
Remember to put strategy first and answer the following questions when selecting a project:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What are the goals of the project?
- Who is the customer? (It can be internal, external, an investor or a customer).
- What value does it add to the customer?
- What metrics will you use to measure the value?
Now might not be the time to dive head first into the AI waters, but it is certainly time to get your feet wet by beginning to explore how you might be able to leverage this new resource your organization.