To What Extent Are Technologies Emerging?

  • March 20, 2018

If you noticed any retail sale shopping advertisements recently (President’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day), you surely noticed the promos for a certain artificial intelligence (AI)/natural language processing device that promises to serve up your music in response to a simple voice command. It’s just another reminder of how fast things are moving in the world of emerging tech, as if we needed it in a time when the business press and tax technology reports have been jam-packed with headlines about AI, machine learning, robotics and more.

But how much of an inroad have these technologies actually made into companies’ financial processes? Not as much as one might think, according to Deloitte’s interpretation of its quarterly CFO Signals survey.

The report focuses on economic sentiment among finance chiefs, but there’s also a discussion of new technologies. Says Deloitte: “When asked to characterize their companies’ progress in applying emerging technologies to finance—including cloud computing, robotic process automation (RPA), visualization, cognitive/AI, in-memory and blockchain—more than half of surveyed CFOs say they have not yet moved beyond the pilot stage. Also, only 11 percent say they have achieved the most important benefits afforded by these technologies.”

Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but I’m impressed that more than 10 percent of CFOs have achieved significant results from these systems, given how new and groundbreaking they are. The same goes for another finding that 30 percent of CFOs who say they are moving beyond pilots to “fundamentally transform the finance function.” It all suggests there’s tremendous upside here for companies that can move fast enough to grab it.

Tax departments will see just as big an impact from these innovative systems. One area to keep an eye on is artificial intelligence. As Vertex Chief Technology Officer Jen Kurtz notes in her post on machine learning, “Now that AI interest is white-hot and seems likely to sustain, it’s time to look at its impacts to a wide range of business functions, including tax.” For a quick educational primer on AI, check out this Learning Lab post on from John Wilson, our director of client relations.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.

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