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Challenges to Accounts Payable Meeting Artificial Intelligence 

By Jackie Aldrich 

Without a doubt the manufacturing industry is being transformed and made better with the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. However, all great advances come with inherent challenges. Having foreknowledge of these challenges are often the difference between successful transition and failure. Enhancing your accounts payable (AP) department with the benefits of AI will present challenges.

Challenges Common to AP-AI Mergers:

  • Data Availability – AI is highly dependent on large amounts of data from which to learn. The data enables AI to establish pattern recognition, transaction anomalies, and the ability to discern fraud.
  • Which Type(s) of AI is Right – Deciding what AI will give you the optimal advantage is key. Imagine trying to remove a car tire with a screwdriver. It's a great tool but totally unnecessary for the task at hand. In many cases combinations of AI will turn out to be the right formula.
  • Do I Have Enough Computing Power – Can my existing system handle the workload that blending AI will generate? Remember raw data consumption and manipulation are not your only concern. AI will bring with it many more capabilities and functions. To utilize these new abilities to the fullest you must be able to have interaction between the numerous other departments and systems that comprise your enterprise resource planning (ERP) environment.  

Overcoming the Challenges:

  • Data availability is usually not a problem in manufacturing accounts payable. Even junior companies will have a vast amount of data from which AI can learn and glean information. There are several ways to facilitate data input so that it's a much less cumbersome process.
  • Choosing the right type of AI or combination thereof will eliminate many challenges to AI integration. Don't look at AI from a "What can the technology do?" standpoint, the real question is, "How does this capability benefit accounts payable?"

Types of AI:

  • Process Automation: Involves data transfer, gathering information from multiple systems, and tasks that require natural language processing. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an excellent way to accomplish process automation. Don't look at the word robotic and see physical robots. In this case it refers to code (software). RPA is cost effective, easy to incorporate, and provides rapid results. It also produces the best return on investment (ROI). Since RPA is not focally designed to learn, it is the least smart, although code writers are enhancing RPA learning ability.
  • Cognitive Insight: This area of AI specializes in pattern recognition and interpretation. Harvard Business Review calls it "analytics on steroids." This is the area that is responsible for advances in fraud detection.
  • Cognitive Engagement: This category of AI covers activities of employees and customers using natural language processing. Think chatbots, automated customer service and procedural guidance for employees.

Advances in AI technology represent a paradigm shift and incorporating AI will not be a plug and play process. When the transition is properly undertaken, the benefits to manufacturing can be awe inspiring. The support of a strong ERP team with vision and technological expertise will provide a firm foundation from which to launch. Contact us to explore how we can be of assistance.

Sources:

https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/newsletters/2017/oct/artificial-intelligence-changing-accounting.html

https://www.accountingtoday.com/opinion/transforming-ap-with-ai

https://www.mediusflow.com/en/untapped/articles/people/artificial-intelligence-and-future-of-accounts-payable

https://hbr.org/2018/01/artificial-intelligence-for-the-real-world

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Topics: Technology, ERP

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