Stay curious to be relevant in 2020, says CFO SA's Graham Fehrsen


Artificial intelligence (AI) already has the ability to read, write, present and take on a physical presence, all with alarming intelligent and coherent patterns. By 2020, a bot might write this piece, moderate a panel at a CFO Summit, and deliver outstanding insights to you, the finance professional, across multiple platforms. If this bot can build trusted relationships with people and creatively collaborate, I am definitely out of a job. And so are you.

By Graham Fehrsen, CFO South Africa MD

While this scenario seems unlikely for now, remaining relevant in your daily work is becoming increasingly difficult, given what technology is doing to accelerate and simplify everyday work. Finance executives have certainly felt this acceleration.

Technology has helped finance teams to be more of a business partner than ever before and has also made finance more accessible to other professions and divisions across the business.

There is also real movement towards AI finance solutions. In 2016, a startup called SMACC launched a self-learning accounting system for SMEs. Not long ago, global player Deloitte announced a partnership with Canadian AI platform Kira Systems to drive its offering into the future.

The relevance in your role is to some extent about keeping up with technology itself, though I think it will be much more about how you engage with and use the technology. There is little choice but to be committed to the speed of change around you, though the one quality that I am banking on for my personal relevance is curiosity.

Curiosity, I think, is the magic ingredient to help all of us tackle the rapidly changing and increasingly technological orientation of our businesses and jobs.

To support you in facing this immense challenge, CFO South Africa is hosting a CFO Summit series for finance leaders. We are extending this learning and discussion to thousands of finance professionals through our digital platforms, this magazine and the Finance Indaba Africa. And we will again shine a light on success and excellence at the CFO Awards on 11 May. Our purpose remains delivering finance professionals with learning, network and career opportunities and insights. We look forward to offering the finance community the finest learning and insights possible.

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