20 AI predictions for 2020

(Part 1 of this article appeared on page 5 of The Sunday Morning Business last week.)

By Emma Hitzke

There’s something about the start of a new decade that feels important and demands some thoughts about the future. Of course, predicting the future is a risky proposition, but several of my colleagues and friends were game for the challenge!

In Part 1 of this series, I focused on the key predictions for artificial intelligence (AI) across the enterprise. In Part 2, I’m looking at the areas of artificial intelligence more specifically in human resources, finance, and supply chain.

Prediction #11: AI will improve HR inefficiencies

Recruiting top talent is a stubborn problem and primary concern for both human resource (HR) and business leaders. Too many hours are spent sorting through resumes, conducting interviews, and engaging in follow-ups, often with mixed results. However, HR applications with adaptive intelligence capabilities can streamline the process and improve candidate experience and results. AI uses machine learning (ML) to continuously refine automated recommendations within recruiting apps. “When these capabilities are embedded as part of a cloud-delivered HR application, leaders can focus on outcomes they want to achieve instead of the technical development of the capabilities,” said Oracle Group Vice President for Human Capital Management Strategy Gretchen Alarcon.

Prediction #12: AI will continue to redefine the manager’s role

AI is already affecting how employees view their managers. In a survey last year, nearly two-thirds of workers (64%) said they trust robots more than their managers. As AI continues to remove many administrative tasks that managers traditionally handled, it means managers will need to find other ways to help their teams. Companies will need to work with managers and their employees to understand how roles and expectations will change as AI supplements managers’ jobs.

Prediction #13: AI will help to remove HR process bias

Unconscious bias is a pervasive problem that can be a drag on recruitment. While training and awareness campaigns can help mitigate this human trait, AI can help eliminate it. AI-powered applications can be built to overcome bias and create a fairer, more objective method of selecting and reviewing candidates. “AI can help recruiters reduce their unconscious biases during the hiring process, and I believe in 2020, we will have HR teams much more engaged and believing in diversity with this helpful technology,” said Jobecam Founder and CEO Cammila Yochabell.

Prediction #14: AI will make the financial ‘one-day close’ possible

The period close and reporting process has long been the bane of finance teams, entailing long hours and eating up days of work every month. But what if you could compress the close to one day? Your team could focus on post-close analysis and providing high-value insight to the business. It’s almost here. AI will ultimately make finance fully automated and allow data to flow from transactions to ledgers continuously, allowing such shift to happen. “I predict we will make significant progress in 2020 towards our goal of realising a continuous close powered by AI and machine learning. It will lead to simplification, efficiency, and questioning why we do things, and show just how powerful Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud are,” said Oracle Senior Vice President and Assistant Global Corporate Controller Maria Smith.

Prediction #15: Intelligence and automation will improve further finance productivity and agility

Our upcoming study with ESG has shown financial errors being reduced by 37% on average, thanks to AI; 61% of companies report that AI has reduced the number of person-hours needed to complete tasks due and 65% of organisations have reduced the time needed to produce statutory reports by one to two weeks. AI is also helping organisations improve forecast accuracy by an average of 32%.

Al Marciante recently presented at Oracle Open World how Oracle EPM Cloud delivers features for automating the account reconciliation/transaction matching, financial close, and narrative reporting business processes. Oracle Intelligent Performance Management focuses on revealing hidden correlations to reduce the time-to-action, utilising signal detection, root cause analysis, insight discovery, action recommendation, collaboration, and intelligent narrative.

Prediction #16: AI will be a game-changer for real-time pricing

As supplies, materials, equipment, and other costs shift, companies are often challenged to determine their true costs and the optimal pricing for their products and services. When prices rise, margins may be insufficient for the company to prosper. When costs fall, companies may not understand that they have additional profit or price flexibility. AI can track price changes in real time and help companies adapt their pricing to optimise their sales and profit potential. “Beyond robotic process automation in back office operations and execution, the next advanced application of AI in corporate finance will be smart, real-time pricing. This will be enabled by the predictability of individualised demand and supply patterns at a low computational cost in several economic fields,” said Medline Industries Vice President of Corporate Finance Antoine Chulia.

Prediction #17: AI will improve supply chain processes and minimise inefficiencies

With AI, organisations have an “always on” efficiency assistant. Chatbots and AI enable supply chain professionals to better monitor operations and receive proactive updates in a simple conversational user interface to reduce manual effort and improve accuracy. “IoT and AI help businesses optimise operations and prevent disruptions. They facilitate efficient route transportation and co-ordinate warehouse operations of shipments in advance. IoT and AI also enable predictive maintenance of production machinery to prevent downtime,” said Oracle Group Vice President of SCM Product Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer Jon Chorley.

Prediction #18: AI will make personalised and sustainable mass manufacturing a reality

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has made many promises, among them experience economy, personalised and connected mass manufacturing for businesses (B2B) and consumers (B2C). AI is the core element of realising this promise. Ubiquitous digital intelligence will permeate the company’s value chain from the spark of an idea to post-sales service contracts and customer loyalty. “New sustainable, personalised, and connected manufacturing business models for B2B and B2C will intensively use AI to make smarter autonomous production machines and processes,” said Oracle Vice President for Industry 4.0 Emerging Technologies Eric Prevost. Other benefits may include smarter operators, predictive self-maintenance, smart supply chain, more sustainable and optimised procurement, and improved customer experience.

Prediction #19: Executive buy-in and change management will continue to be key for success

To make these predictions a reality, it’s critical to get C-suite sponsorship to support financial investment and also encourage employees to embrace and get trained on new and innovative technologies. Our upcoming study with ESG identified that organisations with strong executive understanding of AI/ML are 3.7 times more likely to deploy AI initiatives. If you are in a finance or operations leadership position, it is incumbent upon you to step outside your comfort zone and explore how AI and other advanced technologies can improve your organisation’s performance.

(The writer is the Senior Product Marketing Director – Emerging Tech at Oracle)