Last week OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) model that uses natural language query in the form of conversation to carry out tasks at a level of sophistication that would seem to require the talents of a skilled knowledge worker. AI technology like ChatGPT is showing up in data analysis, research and report writing.
Some knowledge workers may be concerned about being replaced by AI-powered innovations, as Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman recently wrote in the New York Times. For other knowledge workers, however, AI and machine learning tools may be just what they’ve been looking for to keep pace in the age of increased productivity.
“My prediction is that next year is going to be the year of data-to-decisions,” said Pras Chatterjee, senior director of Product Marketing, Planning and Analysis at SAP, who presented his business and technology predictions for 2023 on Technology Revolution: The Future of Now, a program of VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network.
“Over the last 10 years, organizations have really been focused on growth, year over year,” Chatterjee explained. “That phase of growth might be over for a little while, but that doesn’t mean there’s less of an opportunity for profitability. I think it’s really a time for finance to take advantage of technology to drive better profitability.”
AI and the Future of Finance
One trend that Chatterjee has been paying attention to is the long lead time in realizing the promise of emerging technologies like AI and machine learning. This weekend that promise became much more tangible to him as he played around with ChatGPT, OpenAI’s new innovation tool. He and his daughter experimented with the technology by asking ChatGPT questions and gauging the intelligence of the AI-generated responses.
As a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with experience advising Fortune 500 organizations in bringing new technology solutions to finance teams, Chatterjee began to see the immediate value of AI innovations. “I thought to myself, if I’m asking questions and getting answers – and my daughter is asking questions and getting her homework done – what does that mean for finance departments and people looking to do analytics in organizations?”
The advancement in natural language query demonstrated by tools like ChatGPT opens new possibilities for better insights into organizational data, which can have profound effects on decision-making.
“It gives you insights-to-action, so you can take action immediately,” Chatterjee observed. “The stage is set effectively that you have access to all your data. If you start adopting modern analytics solutions on top of your data, you can ask questions in the context of the way your business performs; namely, what are my opportunities? What are my challenges? Where am I struggling? Where can I do better effectively? I think this gives you a handle on having much greater profitability, but also an advantage over your competitors and ultimately delivering better best-in-class shareholder values.”
So, can AI drive shareholder value in a downbeat year?
Chatterjee predicts that while it may not be a good year in terms of economic growth, finance departments will lead best-in-class organizations across the globe to adopt technology which will have significant benefits. “They’ll be able to ask the right questions, adopting AI and machine learning, because it is here now,” he said.
Chatterjee believes the technology has finally arrived. “The time for AI and machine learning isn’t three years from now. It’s at our fingertips, as this weekend showed with one million users trying [ChatGPT] in the first couple of days.”
That’s exceptional growth for any disruptive technology, noted Chatterjee, who suggested that understaffed finance departments awash in data could reap value from the help of AI-powered digital assistants. “I think AI and machine learning is going to drive a ton of profitability and growth in finance organizations – and ultimately lead to more shareholder value for all of us.”