How to vet an AI solution: Guidance for finance leaders

Blog | November 13, 2023

Reading time: 7 min
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In the ever-evolving landscape of finance, the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gone from being a buzzword to a game-changing necessity. You've probably heard about AI's increasing importance in finance and AR management, but if you're eager to explore how AI can help revolutionize your operations, you're in the right place. Remember – AI isn't about replacing your team; it's about supercharging them with innovative tools that drive efficiency and innovation.

But how do you know if you’re choosing the right tools? In this blog post, we're excited to guide you, the Chief Future Officers of the world, as you contemplate the impact the best AI solutions can make within your finance department.

Expectations = exploration + experimentation

First things first. It is essential to understand AI to get the most out of it. AI is a powerful technology with a wide range of potential applications, and businesses cannot afford to wait and see how this technology shakes out. Generative AI, in particular, is here to stay, and finance leaders must be proactive in exploring its value and experimenting with its capabilities.

Generative AI can help businesses meet the new sets of expectations of investors, customers, and employees, according to Gartner.

  • Investors expect new sources of growth and better margins. Generative AI can help businesses achieve this by automating tasks, improving efficiency, and developing new products and services.
  • Customers expect businesses to use generative AI to improve their experiences. Generative AI can be used to personalize products and services, automate customer interactions, and provide real-time insights.
  • Employees expect to work with generative AI to focus on more creative and strategic work. Generative AI can automate many repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up employees to focus on high-value work.

What's the real impact of AI in finance, and why should I be excited about it?

With stakeholders expecting AI to transform finance, it's important to understand how this powerful tool can help you meet their expectations. AI is not just a futuristic concept; it's a practical asset, a powerful assistant that can process data, recognize patterns, and make data-driven decisions at unprecedented speed and accuracy – something you as a finance leader need to perform every day.

Businesses will benefit from this age of AI, and AI's ascent in finance. It offers an array of remarkable advantages across four pivotal areas:

  • Cost control: AI streamlines repetitive tasks, translating to substantial cost reductions.
  • Free up time for employees: Automated data processing frees employees and gives them more time to engage in creative problem-solving.
  • Cash flow acceleration: AI is the mastermind behind optimized cash flow management, offering predictive capabilities and refined working capital management.
  • Better customer experiences: AI paves the way for personalized, efficient, and round-the-clock customer service.
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What specific factors should I focus on when evaluating AI solutions for my finance team?

As you embark on your journey to incorporate AI solutions into your finance department, explore the path thoughtfully. Each consideration is a pivotal step towards success. If you want to make the right decisions, make sure you’re asking yourself (and your vendors) the right questions.

Compatibility: A crucial connection

First and foremost, it's essential that the AI solution aligns seamlessly with your existing systems and processes. Compatibility is the foundation of a successful integration.

Try asking: "How do I ensure that this AI solution won't disrupt our existing operations and systems? Which processes will we need to transform or create?"

Scalability: Meeting future needs

Imagine an AI solution that grows with your business. Scalability is about preparing for the future, ensuring that your chosen solution can adapt as your financial requirements evolve.

Try asking: "What factors should I consider to guarantee that this can accommodate our growing business needs?"

Ease of integration: A smooth transition for your team

A solution that's easy to integrate means a smoother transition. Look for AI solutions that promise minimal disruption to your current workflow. If bringing an AI assistant into your organization forces you to change how your team needs to work, it might ultimately create more challenges than it’s worth.

Try asking: "Can you provide examples or case studies showing how this AI solution has seamlessly integrated with existing processes, making the transition painless? What skills are required to collaborate with this solution?"

Support: You’ll need a safety net

Robust customer support and comprehensive training are non-negotiables. A trustworthy provider should offer extensive support to help your team navigate the AI landscape effectively.

Try asking: "How can I ensure that the AI solution provider offers the level of support and training my team needs?"

ROI evaluation: The bottom line

Ultimately, like most decisions that come out of your office, it can often come down to return on investment (ROI). An AI solution should not just be a technological addition but a strategic investment with tangible returns.

Try asking: "What's the best way for our team to assess the ROI of an AI solution to ensure it's worth the investment before we make a decision?"

How do I evaluate AI providers?

Choosing the right AI solution provider for your finance team is as critical as the solution itself. With so many providers to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. We're here to help you evaluate AI solution providers and choose the best one for your team and your goals.

  1. When evaluating AI solution providers for the finance industry, look for those with deep expertise in the field. Their knowledge and experience are invaluable assets. Understanding technology is one thing, but understanding the roles that risk management, global compliance, and information security play can be a major differentiator. To assess this, check the vendor's track record of security and compliance.
  2. Assess the provider's industry reputation by considering client testimonials and success stories. You’ll be using this tool well past the point of sale, so make sure you get a perspective on how the provider’s long term customers feel about the value they’re seeing. You can also read reviews from other users on sites like G2 to get feedback on the provider's solutions, services, and customer support.
  3. Real-world case studies provide insights into how their solutions have benefited other businesses, offering practical evidence of their capabilities. Look at these stories and find similarities to your own business where possible. Are they highlighting benefits that align with your company’s goals? If not – they might not be the best fit for your situation.
  4. Talk to your finance team members. See what features they think are important for them, and your business. This way you’re making sure that the solution you are investigating is a good fit for your team’s needs and workflow.

What technical signals do I look for if I don’t completely understand the technology?

You may not be an AI expert, but when testing the accuracy of an AI tool, such as a language model (LLM) for generative AI like ChatGPT, or assessing the quality of its model and the process by which it was created, there are a few technical signals you can look for:

  • Dataset size and diversity: AI models are trained on data, so the size and diversity of the dataset is important. Larger and more diverse datasets tend to produce more accurate models. The training process, including preprocessing steps and data augmentation, should also be transparent and well-documented. In short - look for markers for rigor and integrity in the creation process.
  • Model architecture: The architecture of an AI model determines how it learns and performs. Some architectures are better suited for certain tasks than others. Consider whether it's suitable for your purposes and whether it's a state-of-the-art model in that domain. Not every tool is great at every task.
  • Generalization ability: AI models should be able to generalize to new and unseen data. This means that they should be able to perform well on data that they were not trained on. Cross-validation or out-of-sample testing can help assess this aspect. After all, you don’t want a tool that worked well yesterday if you can’t trust that it will work well tomorrow.
  • Performance benchmarks: Compare the AI tool's performance with other state-of-the-art models or existing solutions in the same domain. You’ll also want to understand the process of continuous improvement and updates for the AI tool.
  • Continuous improvement: Regular model updates and feedback incorporation are important for maintaining accuracy and relevance – as well as a predictable competitive edge.

technical signals to look for if I don’t completely understand the AI technology

In conclusion, AI is your ally in finance, ready to revolutionize your financial processes and elevate customer experiences. At Billtrust, we're passionate about harnessing AI to empower financial leaders like you. We bring our industry expertise to the table, offering a range of AI-powered solutions, such as predictive analytics that are meticulously designed to address specific challenges within your finance department.

If you have questions or need more personalized guidance, please don't hesitate to reach out. Your success remains our top priority.