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INPUT by Alteryx Blog

Why CFOs Must Step Up As AI Leaders

See how CFOs can make a bigger impact when they think of themselves as AI leaders.

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A 2020 report by MIT Sloan contends that while CFOs may not think of themselves as leaders of artificial intelligence (AI) for their companies, they can make a bigger leadership impact when it comes to AI strategy and adoption. There are two key reasons:

1. Automation technologies are here to stay. And they’re going to keep coming.

CFOs are heads of the finance function and many finance processes and tasks can be performed by AI. One survey of US organizations found that 24% of finance managers are currently using AI, and another 50% expect to use it within three to five years.

2. CFOs must be ready to transform the business, not merely cover data costs.

CFOs are the primary custodians of ‘value for money’ appraisals and as such should provide oversight on AI investments. Given that many CIOs report to the CFO, first-time CFOs need to be ready to lead digital transformation projects, applying AI and automation to tasks, processes, and frequently repeated activities (e.g. rebooting servers, monitoring networks, supplying user passwords, and capturing and monitoring trouble tickets, or initiatives like helping to validate and prioritize cybersecurity threats). When senior leaders, such as CIOs make the case for AI investments, CFOs should be alongside the effort, integrating financial evaluations with technology strategy.

"If an organization is to transform its finance function with AI capabilities, or to employ a wise investing approach to AI in general, leadership from the CFO is essential." – MIT Sloan (2020)

Opportunities for AI within the finance function

CFOs who step up to take ownership of AI technology are positioning themselves and their organization for the future. Explore how AI can be used in finance to improve processes and save time.


  • Automating journal entries
  • Completing account reconciliations
  • Calculating and applying allocations

Accounts Payable

  • Processing expense approvals
  • Performing audits
  • Matching invoices

Accounts Receivable

  • Creating and authenticating invoices
  • Analyzing and processing disputes
  • Generating reports


  • Gathering and cleaning data
  • Checking forecast and budget inputs
  • Creating management reports


  • Catching time sheet errors
  • Calculating deductions
  • Checking data across multiple timekeeping systems

Learn More 

Find out what IDC’s C-Suite survey of 100+ interviews with finance executives revealed about the future of finance. Get the IDC presentation, Deep Dive into the Future of Finance.

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Chelsea Wise
Chelsea Wise
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